Comma splice: what the hell is that?

comma splice

Pens out, pals! This month we're learning about the 'comma splice'—a common form of punctuation abuse.

Whenever I think of the term 'comma splice', I usually think of Jeff Goldblum in the Cronenberg remake of The Fly...

I also think about the film Splice. Either way, it conjures up nasty visuals. This is unfortunate because comma splices are a common mistake and one I make on the regular. Let's delve into the deets and find out what the hell a comma splice is and how to prevent one from happening to you or someone you love.

What is a comma splice?

Comma splices happen when you jam a comma between two independent clauses, joining them together in one abomination of a sentence.

Allow me to demonstrate...

Comma splices are ugly, they make my eyes bleed.

The first half of the sentence (the bit before that poor, misplaced comma) is a complete clause all on its own. You could put a full stop after the word 'ugly' and you'd have a perfectly respectable sentence. The second half of the sentence (the bit after the comma) is also a complete clause.

So we've got two complete clauses, forced unwillingly together like contestants on Dinner Date. They don't need each other, bro. They're happy being single.

So how can we fix it?

How to fix a splice

There are two main ways you can de-splice your comma:

  1. Replace the comma with a full stop or a semicolon

  2. Add a conjunction


Solution 1

Because we know these two clauses can work alone, we can just turn those suckers into two separate sentences:

Comma splices are ugly. They make my eyes bleed.

We can also switch out our comma for a semicolon. A semicolon can be used to join two relatedclauses, so it's perfect for our splice conundrum...

Comma splices are ugly; they make my eyes bleed.


Solution 2

Okay, so you don't want to deal with more punctuation. Not now that you've made a punctuation-related error. You're done with this shit. If this is the case, you can just add a conjunction instead.

Conjunctions are words like 'so', 'and' and 'but'. They're used to connect clauses, so we can definitely shove one in there.

Comma splices are ugly and they make my eyes bleed.

Job done. Don't you feel so much better now? I know I do.

Emma Cownley