Punctuation Errors: The Comma Splice
We have already covered the basics of this punctuation mark on the article Introducing the Comma. Basically, commas are used after introductory elements on sentences (e.g., introductory words, phrases,clauses). Commas are also used to separate dependent clauses, like this:
As it was raining, we decided to stay home.
The comma can also be used to separate independent clauses, but the clauses must be joined by a conjunction. If the conjunction is missing, we have what is called the comma splice. Here is an example:
They have a course of economics here, the students like it.
This construction is considered to be grammatically incorrect. There are several methods to fix a comma splice. First of all you can use a period instead of the comma:
They have a course of economics here. The students like it.
Secondly, you can add a co-ordinating conjunction to the second clause:
They have a course of economics here, and the students like it.
The other methods for fixing the comma splice are less intuitive. You can substitute the comma with a semicolon (keep in mind that the semicolon binds two clauses more closely than the period) or you can use a subordinating conjunction that will make the two causes dependent.
They have a course of economics here because the students like it.
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