What is a Comma Splice? Definition, Examples of Comma Splices

Comma splice definition: A comma splice is a term for a grammatical error that occurs when two main clauses are joined with only a comma.

What is a Comma Splice?

A comma splice is a grammatical error and a misuse of the comma. It occurs when two main (or independent) clauses are incorrectly combined using only a comma.

Two independent clauses cannot be joined without a proper conjunction or without proper punctuation.

Comma Splice Examples

  • We went to the store, we bought apples.
    • This example has two independent clauses, one on each side of the comma. This sentence needs a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon to be grammatically correct.
  • The cat needs food, he is hungry.
    • Again, this example has two independent clauses. In order to be grammatically correct, this sentence needs to be split into two or a conjunction needs to be added.

A comma splice also creates a run-on sentence.

How to Fix a Comma Splice

What is comma splice Comma splices are not good grammar. Therefore, they should be corrected in any type of writing, be it formal, informal, essays, etc.

Let’s use the above example to show how to fix comma splices.

How to Fix a Comma Splice Sentence:

There are three ways to fix a comma splice.

  1. Create two independent clauses.
    1. Incorrect: We went to the store, we bought apples.
    2. Correct: We went to the store. We bought apples.
  1. Change the comma to a semicolon.
    1. Incorrect: We went to the store, we bought apples.
    2. Correct: We went to the store; we bought apples.
  1. Leave the comma and add a conjunction.
    1. Incorrect: We went to the store, we bought apples.
    2. Correct: We went to the store, and we bought apples.
      1. This kind of conjunction is known as a coordination conjunction.

NOTE: Only use a semicolon if the sentences are of equal length and of equal importance.

Other Types of Run-Ons

Coma splice or comma splice What is a run-on sentence? Run-on sentences are sentences in need of some grammatical correction. They contain more than one independent clause joined incorrectly.

1.) Comma Splice

As we have gone over in this article, a comma splice is one type of run-on sentence. Other errors can create run-on sentences, as well.

2.) Joining sentences with however, moreover, etc.

When joining main clauses with one of the above words, the clauses must be separated into two sentences or a semicolon must be used.

  • Incorrect: We went to the store, however, we could not find apples.
  • Correct: We went to the store; however, we could not find apples.
  • Correct: We went the store. However, we could not find apples.

3.) Fused Sentences

What is a fused sentence? A fused sentence is a sentence that contains two main clauses but lacks a punctuation mark or a conjunction to join them.

  • Incorrect: We went to the store we bought apples.
  • Correct: We went to the store; we bought apples.
  • Correct: We went the store, and we bought apples.
  • Correct: We went to the store. We bought apples.

How to Avoid Run-ons, Comma splices

Comma splice sentence examples Not all long sentences are run-ons, and not all run-ons are long sentences. As seen in the above examples, run-on sentences can be relatively short. The only criterion is that the sentence contains more than one independent clause joined incorrectly.

Long sentences might actually be beautifully written. Sentences with subordinate clauses often lend themselves to lengthier structures. They are not run-on sentences because they have a dependent clause—they may even have more than one dependent clause. However, they only contain one independent clause.

In order to avoid grammatical errors such as run-on sentences (including comma splices), a writer first has to know how to properly punctuate complete sentences. This is easier said than done.

Foremost, a writer should not join two independent clauses unless he is sure he is doing so correctly.

Summary: What’s a Comma Splice?

Define comma splice: the definition of comma splice is two or more independent clauses joined solely by a comma.

In summary, a comma splice:

  • is incorrect grammar
  • a type of run-on sentence
  • must be corrected in professional writing
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