Learning and Fixing Comma Splices – With Examples!

The comma splice error is a common punctuation problem that can confuse the structure of a sentence. The good thing is that learning the correct comma splice definition can ensure you don’t make this punctuation mistake. And to help you identify comma splices, we’ve included a huge list of examples.

What Is the Definition of a Comma Splice?

picture showing the structure of a comma splice sentence.

A comma splice definition is a grammatical error that occurs when you use a comma to join two independent clauses. Although more common in fiction writing, comma splices can occur in everyday writing when you are unsure how to combine two sentences. 

But why is it considered a no-no? 

This is because comma splices create ambiguity in sentences, making it difficult for readers to understand the intended meaning of a sentence. When writers use comma splices, they often leave out necessary words or phrases that would make their sentences more coherent.

So, what’s the difference between a run-on sentence and a comma splice? 

Well, a run-on sentence and a comma splice definition are similar in that they involve two independent clauses. However, there is a difference. 

Run-on sentences do not contain a punctuation mark (whether a comma, an exclamation point, or a question mark), whereas comma splices always have commas separating them.

Comma Splice Examples

Comma splice examples are everywhere. However, spotting a comma splice can be tricky unless you know where to look. Here are some examples of comma splices:

He's going to the store, he'll come home and cook dinner for us.
I like chocolate, I don't like peanut butter.
He lost his keys, he searched everywhere for them. My grandmother is going to take me shopping, I am excited!
I went to the park with my friends, we played tennis and football.

How to Spot a Comma Splice Sentence?

The comma splice is a common punctuation mistake, but it’s not always easy to identify. If unsure, the list below will give you some of the most common ways to spot a comma splice.

  • The first clause contains a subject and verb, and the second clause contains a subject and verb.
  • Instead of a period or semicolon to separate the clauses, there is a comma.
  • There is no subject before the comma.
  • The two independent clauses don’t have a conjunction or coordinating conjunction such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, etc.
  • The second independent clause does not connect logically with the first independent clause in any way except that they are both about the same subject matter and have similar meanings.

5 Ways You Can Fix a Comma Splice

A comma splice is considered a blunder by most grammar nazis, and you need to avoid them like the plague. Here are 5 ways you can fix a comma splice.

Method #1: Use a Period

If you have two complete sentences stuck together with only a comma, use a period after the first sentence and start the second one with a capital letter. This will create two separate sentences that go together seamlessly. This effectively fixes a comma splice because it separates the two independent clauses clearly and effectively.

Here are some examples: 

Comma SplicesCorrectionI like cats and dogs, I think they make great pets.I like cats and dogs. I think they make great pets.
I like dogs, they are my favorite pet.I like dogs. They are my favorite pet.
I love Adelle’s music, I used to listen to it all the time when I was younger.I love Adelle’s music. I used to listen to it all the time when I was younger.
I love to play tennis, it’s such a good way to get some exercise.I love to play tennis. It’s such a good way to get some exercise.
I love my cat, she’s so cute.I love my cat. She’s so cute.

Method #2: Add Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are words like and, but, or, and nor. Coordinating conjunction can join two independent clauses and create a compound sentence.

Examples of using coordinating conjunctions to correct comma splices are shown below.

Comma SpliceCorrection
I live in Chicago, my family lives in Dallas.I live in Chicago, but my family lives in Dallas.
He was late, he missed his trainHe was late because he missed his train.
I enjoyed my dinner at the restaurant, the service was terrible.I enjoyed my dinner at the restaurant, but the service was terrible.
You can’t see me anymore, I’m invisible.You can’t see me anymore because I’m invisible.
The store was open late, I didn’t have time to shop.The store was open late, and I didn’t have time to shop.

Method #3: Insert Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are words that connect one clause (group of words) to another clause, creating a complex sentence. Thus, eliminating a comma splice. Subordinating conjunctions include

  • Until
  • As long as
  • Since
  • Although
  • Because
  • Unless

Here are some examples of using subordinating conjunctions to avoid comma splices.

Comma SpliceCorrection
I will go to the party, I am tired.I will go to the party even though I am tired.
He went to work early, he wanted to avoid rush hour.He went to work early because he wanted to avoid rush hour.
I don’t want to go to bed, I’m not tired yet!I don’t want to go to bed because I’m not tired yet!
I ate, I slept.I ate, then I slept.
Bob did not go to school, he was sick.Bob did not go to school since he was sick.

Tip: Don’t confuse subordinating conjunctions with conjunctive adverbs like “however,” “nevertheless,” and “hence.” These words are used at the start of the first sentence. You can use them to fix a comma splice, but you should add a semicolon or period before the second independent clause.

Method #4: Opt for a Semi-colon

This strategy is effective only when the two clauses are joined to have a natural relationship and a clear, logical link.

Here are instances of how you can use a semicolon to eliminate comma splices:

Comma SpliceCorrection
I want to go to the store, it’s time for me to buy food.I want to go to the store; it’s time for me to buy food.
The boy was running down the street, he was scared.The boy was running down the street, he was scared.
I like scones; they’re delicious.I like scones; they’re delicious.
I want to go home now, I’m tired.I want to go home now; I’m tired.
The wedding was beautiful, we danced all night long.The wedding was beautiful; we danced all night long.

Method #5: Try Transitional Words

Transitional words and phrases help you connect one idea to another. They also signal to your reader that one clause or sentence is ending and another is beginning. 

Examples of transitional words include:

  • Moreover
  • Furthermore
  • Also
  • Additionally
  • Besides
  • Furthermore
  • In addition 

Moreover, using a transitional word to eliminate a comma splice can make your writing easier to follow and more natural sounding.

The following example shows how using transitional phrases can eliminate comma splices:

Comma SpliceCorrection
I wanted to go home early today. However, I still have a lot of work to do.I wanted to go home early today, I still have a lot of work to do.
He was very happy with his job, he smiled all day long at work.He was very happy with his job. Hence, he smiled all day long at work.
We sent our resume and cover letter, we included a list of references.We sent our resume and cover letter. Additionally, we included a list of references.
The students were not given enough time to work on their projects, they could not complete them.The students were not given enough time to work on their projects. Therefore, they could not complete them.
The team was overworked, they were underpaid.The team was overworked. Moreover, they were underpaid.

Comma Splice: A Glorious Mistake

A comma splice definition is an inadvertent error where one joins two independent clauses (with complete thoughts) using a comma. 

It may seem like an excellent way to mask a lack of citations, but they do more harm than good. They hinder readability and create ambiguity and confusion for your reader.

In the end, mastering a comma splice definition involves learning how to break sentences into smaller, more grammatical pieces. Be sure to look at our list above so you don’t unintentionally commit any of them in the future. 

Hopefully, these examples will clarify everything. The best way to understand a comma splice meaning is to practice, practice, practice!

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