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Definition of Comma Splice and How to Avoid It in a Sentence

Before we delve deeper into the subject of finding a comma splice in a sentence, it is important to understand the definition of a comma splice. It usually happens when a comma is used for connecting two independent clauses. If there is no coordinating conjunction between the clauses, the sentence can become confusing. In addition, compound sentences that contain a comma splice can be divided into two categories.

The first one is the statement that has two complete sentences with no punctuation marks. The second one has a comma splice that occurs due to the lack of coordinating conjunctions in a sentence. Both types need to be defined by the writers that are composing an academic text. With the help of a guide below, it is possible to learn more about the comma splice based on the academic texts. The most common example of an incorrect sentence would be the following:

How to Correct Comma Splice?

  • The stars are bright they illuminate the sky.
  • ✔️ The stars are bright, and they illuminate the sky.

Here is a sentence that contains another classic comma splice:

These rooms are richly decorated, they improve the interior.

In the example above, the sentence is grammatically correct, but still needs to be edited. Below, you will find alternative versions of the same sentence, improved to avoid the comma splice:

  • ✔️ These rooms are richly decorated, and they improve the interior.
  • ✔️ These rooms are richly decorated, so they improve the interior.

It is good to remember that any sentence is considered correct as long as it has a subject and a predicate. However, it needs to be mentioned that the length of the sentence does not automatically indicate the presence of a comma splice. The readers may come across long sentences that are easy-to-comprehend and do not contain a comma splice such as the one, presented below:

  • I arrived at the party, my friend was there.
  • ✔️ I arrived at the party, and my friend was there.

There are many options, accessible to the writers who wish to solve the problem of a comma splice. Here are some of the most well-known methods on how to avoid it in a sentence.
Let’s take the following statement as an example:

I was thinking of leaving early, it was getting dark.

Solution 1.
The most obvious solution for the comma splice would be adding a coordinating conjunction after the comma in a sentence. Coordinating conjunctions join two elements of a sentence and help avoid confusing statements.
✔️ I was thinking of leaving early, and it was getting dark.
Solution 2.
The second solution that comes to mind would be using a semicolon in a sentence that originally had a comma. However, it is important to understand that a semicolon only works for closely connected clauses.
✔️ I was thinking of leaving early; it was getting dark.
Solution 3.
The third option is reserved for sentences where adding a conjunction or a semicolon does not seem possible. In this case, the only alternative left is dividing the statement into two individual sentences.
✔️ I was thinking of leaving early. It was getting dark.

Below, you will find more examples of how to fix a comma splice in a sentence. When adding a conjunction does not work within the context of a specific paragraph, a semicolon would be the perfect option. For instance:

I’m not attending the celebration, it’s so tiring.

Using a comma in the sentence above seems inappropriate. However, adding a conjunction is not a logical solution either:

I’m not attending the celebration, and it’s so tiring.

In this case, adding the conjunction “and” did not solve the problem of a comma splice. Instead of using a coordinating word to connect the clauses, it is best to insert a semicolon between the first and the second clause:

✔️ I’m not attending the celebration; it’s so tiring.

Again, it’s possible to use the method of creating two sentences that will render the same meaning as the original one:

✔️ I’m not attending the celebration. It’s so tiring.

Examples When Comma Splice Can Stay

In some sentences, the presence of a conjunction makes perfect sense:

❌Incorrect ✔️Correct
He was rude, we didn’t respond to his accusations. He was rude, so we didn’t respond to his accusations.
The night was gathering, the night flowers bloomed. The night was gathering, and the night flowers bloomed.
I love the process of baking cakes, it’s so relaxing. I love the process of baking cakes, because it is so relaxing.
We went to the shop at once, we purchased clothes. We went to the shop at once, and we purchased clothes.

It is universally believed that a comma splice is not appropriate when it comes to formal correspondence and general business communication. However, fiction writers are known to use a comma splice to emphasize the point or bring attention to their character’s personal thoughts and feelings. For example:

  • ✔️ He was mysterious, he was enigmatic, he was dark.
  • ✔️ She is the star, she is the leader, she is the authority.
  • ✔️ She wanted to work at the mines, to gaze at the stars, to sleep.
  • ✔️ The moon looked like a yellow orb, a crystal ball, a secret.

In the examples above, the presence of a comma splice in a sentence is obvious. It would be grammatically correct to join the independent clauses with a conjunction. However, the fictional aspect of the content allows the writers to be less formal with their academic structure. Therefore, no conjunctions are used within the text. Comma splices are created for a more emotional impact.

In addition, a comma splice can be used as a rhetorical method for academic purposes. Works of fiction often feature examples of comma splices that would otherwise be considered too informal. It is important to look at the context of writing to understand the function of a comma splice in a sentence.

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