Comma Splices and
How to Fix Them in Writing


Comma splices are an incorrect use of the comma. (A splice here means a connection point.)

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Comma SplicesThey happen when two independent clauses, or sentences, are connected by only a comma without a coordinating conjunction.

In this lesson we will learn how to identify and fix comma splices!

Examples of comma splices:
  • The dog ran into the yard, the cat climbed the tree.

    The dog ran into the yard and the cat climbed the tree are independent clauses because they can both stand alone as sentences. They cannot be combined with only a comma.

  • I jumped into the swimming pool, it was freezing!

    I jumped into the swimming pool and it was freezing are independent clauses because they can both stand alone as sentences.
    They cannot be combined with only a comma.

  • He came on time, he could not see anything.

    He came on time and he could not see anything are independent clauses because they can both stand alone as sentences.
    They cannot be combined with only a comma.
Came on time

There are several ways to correct this comma-joined sentences:
  1. Using a coordinating conjunction

  2. Using a period or an exclamation mark

  3. Using a semicolon


How to fix comma splices
with a coordinating conjunction

The sentences above are examples of comma splices and run-on sentences.

To fix the comma splice without removing the comma we should add a coordinating conjunction between the independent clauses.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. They are used with a comma to correctly connect independent clauses.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: The dog ran into the yard, the cat climbed the tree.
    Correct: The dog ran into the yard, so the cat climbed the tree.

  • Incorrect: I jumped into the swimming pool, it was freezing!
    Correct: I jumped into the swimming pool, and it was freezing!


How to use a period or exclamation mark to fix comma splices

Coordinating conjunctions are not the only way to fix a comma splice.

You can also use a period or exclamation mark to fix comma splices by separating the two independent clauses into two complete sentences.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: The dog ran into the yard, the cat climbed the tree.
    Correct: The dog ran into the yard. The cat climbed the tree.

  • Incorrect: I jumped into the swimming pool, it was freezing!
    Correct: I jumped into the swimming pool. It was freezing!


How to use semicolons to fix comma splices

Another way to fix comma splices is to separate the independent clauses with a semicolon.

The semicolon is a form of punctuation that looks like a period on top of a comma ( ; ).

A semicolon allows you to join the two sentences without a full stop or a coordinating conjunction.

  • Incorrect: The dog ran into the yard, the cat climbed the tree.
    Correct: The dog ran into the yard; the cat climbed the tree.

  • Incorrect: I jumped into the swimming pool, it was freezing!
    Correct: I jumped into the swimming pool; it was freezing!
Freezing


More examples of how to fix comma splices

  • Incorrect: Tim wished he could see Mary, he had to work all weekend.

    This comma splice can be fixed by adding the coordinating conjunction but after the comma.

  • Correct: Tim wished he could see Mary, but he had to work all weekend.
  • Incorrect: My friends had a surprise party for me, I had a wonderful birthday!

    This comma splice could be fixed with a semicolon or by separating the sentences with end punctuation.

  • Correct: My friends had a surprise party for me; I had a wonderful birthday!

    Correct: My friends had a surprise party for me. I had a wonderful birthday!

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