Avoid Comma Splices

What is a comma splice?
A comma splice is a common sentence problem that occurs when two complete sentences
(independent clauses) are incorrectly joined by a comma. This incorrect union of clauses creates a
run-on sentence. The problem can be repaired when a diferent form of punctuation replaces the
comma, a coordinating conjunction is inserted, or when the sentence is rewritten.
How can a comma splice be corrected?
• Locate the sentence in which two complete sentences (independent clauses) have been
incorrectly joined by a comma.
• Draw a vertical line on your paper to separate the independent clauses.
• Use an end mark and proper capitalization to separate the independent clauses into two (or
more) complete sentences.
• Use a comma followed by an appropriate coordinating conjunction (fanboys: for, and, nor,
but, or, yet, so) to separate related independent clauses.
• Use a semicolon (;), colon (:), or dash (–) to separate related independent clauses.
• Change one independent clause into a dependent clause and join the two clauses, using
appropriate punctuation.
• Rewrite the two independent clauses as one cohesive independent clause.
Let’s look at an example:
Incorrect: The depressed student could hardly get out of bed in the morning, she could not cope
with the demands of college life.
Correction A: The depressed student could hardly get out of bed in the morning; she could not cope
with the demands of college life.
Correction B: Overwhelmed by the demands of college life, the depressed student could hardly get
out of bed in the morning.

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