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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 different 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.