Grammar Girl on Comma Splices



Listen and/or read this Grammar Girl episode on a very common error, comma splices.


Review how to correct a comma splice below. Be ready to show what you know!

1. Make two complete sentences.

Because comma splices and fused sentences contain two main clauses, you can always add a period at the end of the first clause and then begin the second one with a capital letter.

Grandma still rides her Schwinn bicycle her lap dog balances in a basket between the handlebars.

A break should occur between bicycle and her. To fix the problem, you would revise the sentence like this:

Grandma still rides her Schwinn bicycle. Her lap dog balances in a basket between the handlebars.

2. Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions (for, and,nor, but or, yet, so). These seven coordinating conjunctions can join two main clauses. Look at this example:

Grandma still rides her Schwinn bicycle her lap dog balances in a basket between the handlebars.

To fix the problem, try this:

Grandma still rides her Schwinn bicycle, and her lap dog balances in a basket between the handlebars.

It is important to remember to use a coordinating conjunction that logically joins the two complete sentences.

3. Use a semicolon.

A semicolon is a strong enough mark of punctuation to join two main clauses. Use a semicolon like this:

Grandma still rides her Schwinn bicycle; her lap dog balances in a basket between the handlebars.

Think about the following when you chose to use a semicolon:

  • The two sentences that the semicolon joins should be closely related in meaning.
  • Don't capitalize the word that follows the semicolon unless that word is a proper noun.
  • Don't go crazy with semicolons. You should thoughtfully scatter then throughout your writing.

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM