How To Identify and Fix Comma Splices

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Comma splices are not hard to identify and they are very simple to fix.  The problem is that most people just aren’t aware of them being a problem!  If you want to write good business text or if you want to write and get paid for it, you should learn how to identify and fix a comma splice.

Try to choose which of the following three sentences is a comma splice:

  1. John and Marie went to the movies and dinner, to the coffee shop, and then drove home.
  2. The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild!
  3. The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild, they escaped out the back door.

Were you able to identify the comma splice?  The comma splice is in sentence number 3.  You can identify a comma splice when you see two independent clauses that are joined by a comma.  Or in simpler terms, when both clauses in a sentence can stand on their own, it results in a comma splice.

There are two clauses in the third sentence: The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild and They escaped out the back door.  Either clause could be a complete sentence on its own but by connecting the two clauses with a comma it becomes a comma splice.

Now, the big question – how do you fix it?

There are several ways you can fix a comma splice.  You can join the two clauses with a coordinating conjunction (and, or, not, but).  With this method the sentence would now look like this:

The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild and they escaped out the back door.

You can turn it into two sentences so the sentence would look like this:

The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild.  They escaped out the back door.

You could also join them with a conjunctive adverb like however, consequently, or therefore. If you choose to use this method you will need to use a semi-colon.  Using this method our sentence would now read:

The dogs, cats, and other animals in the shelter went wild; consequently, the escaped out the back door.

By learning how to avoid comma splices and how to fix them your writing will become more concise and clear.  If you have questions, please leave me a comment and I will try to answer it for you.

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Danielle McGaw is a freelance writer and teaches by day.  You can find out more about her and the services she offers at her website, A Freelance Life.

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