A comma splice is a type
of run-on sentence. It is a fairly common run-on
error, which can be avoided if you know what to look
for. Before we discuss what a comma splice is and
how to avoid one, letís look at some definitions.
Independent clause Ė
A group of words that have a subject and a
predicate and can stand alone as a complete
Comma splice Ė A
type of run-on caused by trying to use a comma alone
to join two independent clauses or sentences, or by
trying to use a comma and a word other than a
coordinating conjunction to join two independent
population numbers had been very
cyclical throughout Europe, frequently
large segments of the statesí populations
would be subject to catastrophe from crop
failure, war, or diseases.
In this example, the
subjects are bolded and the verbs are italicized.
If youíll notice, both sections have a subject and
verb, and both can stand alone as independent
sentences. So by using a comma only to connect
them, I have created a comma splice. Below is an
example of the second kind of comma splice.
Ex. The reason that
it is not immediately obvious,
according to Dawidowicz, is that he was censored by
societal conventions from speaking directly,
therefore, he had to use
language that was
ambiguous and full of rhetorical devices.
The comma that comes
between the words directly and therefore
is the one that makes this sentence incorrect. This
is probably the most common type of comma splice
error. What happens is that many people think that
conjunctive adverbs (therefore, however,
nevertheless, etc.) and subordinate conjunctions
(although, because, etc.) can be used in the same
way as coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for,
so, yet, or, nor), but they cannot. Only those
in the coordinating conjunction category can be used
with a comma to join independent clauses. The other
way to join independent clauses is to use a
semi-colon between them, but this option can be used
only if the sentences are closely related.
To avoid writing comma
splices, you need to identify your subject and
verb. If there are more than one in the sentence,
look at the complete clauses to verify if they are
two independent clauses or if one is a subordinate
clause by asking if each could stand alone as a
sentence. Should you have two independent clauses,
check to see how they are connected. If it is with a
comma alone, the sentences will need to be revised.
For ways to connect the sentences appropriately,
refer to our handout on comma splices and fused
earned her BA at the University of Houston-Victoria and
is pursuing graduate studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus
Christi. She has worked as a writing tutor at the Academic
Center for two years.
(2003). A writerís reference (5th Ed.) Boston: