Are you ever unsure whether you can connect those clauses with a comma, or if you need something stronger like a semicolon? The answer is one you may be familiar with: it depends! But fear not, for after this lesson the largely misunderstood comma splice will no longer afflict your writing.
- What is a Comma Splice? A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses (a clause that has both a subject and verb and can stand alone as a separate sentence) are joined together with a comma without a coordinating conjunction or other appropriate punctuation mark: “The court dismissed the case, the evidence was insufficient.”
Avoiding the Comma Splice:
- Use a Period: Separate the two independent clauses into two sentences with a period: “The court dismissed the case. The evidence was insufficient.”
- Use a Coordinating Conjunction: Add a coordinating conjunction (remember FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) after the comma: “The court dismissed the case, for the evidence was insufficient.”
- Use a Semicolon: Replace the comma with a semicolon if the two independent clauses are (1) closely related in idea and (2) the second clause starts with a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase: “The court dismissed the case; indeed, the evidence was insufficient.”
- Use a Colon: If the second clause illustrates or explains the first clause, a colon may be appropriate: “The court dismissed the case: the evidence was insufficient.”
And now it’s time for some practice problems, for we need not ever splice another comma again!