Comma splice in English grammar

In this post, we learn what a comma splice is, and how to use it in English. There is a video lesson attached at the end; you can watch it directly if you prefer videos to articles.

What is a comma splice in English?

Comma splice definition: A comma splice in English is a grammatical mistake that occurs when you add two sentences using a comma. It is type of a run-on sentence. A comma splice in English is a result of adding two independent clauses together using a comma.

It is one of the most common mistakes that people, both native and non-native English speakers, make.

This is for office use, you can’t use it.

This is an amalgamation of two sentences:

  1. This is for office use.
  2. You can’t use it.

In English, if you want to add independent clauses together, there are a few ways to do that. Using a comma to do so results in an error called a run-on sentence. A comma is not strong enough to add sentences; it can add words and phrases though.

Examples of comma splices in English

  • I can’t marry her, she will ruin my life.
  • Last night, we watched a movie, it was dark and scary.
  • You are an amazing dancer, you will be a superstar soon.
  • This is not just a job, this is everything to me.
  • I won’t be going to the dance class, it is extremely boring.
  • I can’t eat it, you should not wait for me and try it.
  • It’s getting late now, you must leave.
  • My father will never eat eggs, it is a life, according to him.

Let’s talk about the solution of a comma splice in English. Let’s talk about the different ways to fix it.

How to fix a comma splice in English?

There are 5 ways to fix a comma splice in English. Let’s master them one by one.

Correction #1: Using a period

The easiest way to fix a comma splice is to separate the sentences (independent clauses) using a period.

Comma splice sentence: I can’t marry her, she will ruin my life.
Correction: I can’t marry her. She will ruin my life.

Comma splice sentence: Last night, we watched a movie, it was dark and scary.
Correction: Last night, we watched a movie. It was dark and scary.

Correction #2: Using a semicolon

Another way to fix a comma splice and to add two or more sentences is to use a semicolon. But remember that a semicolon is preferred more to use or should be used when both the sentences are connected to each other in some ways.

Comma splice sentence: You are an amazing dancer, you will be a superstar soon.
Correction: You are an amazing dancer; you will be a superstar soon.

(Notice that both sentences are related to each other and focusing on one thing: dancing.)

Comma splice sentence: I won’t be going to the dance class, it is extremely boring.
Correction: I won’t be going to the dance class; it is extremely boring.

(These two sentences are connected to each other too. And using a semicolon to bring them together is a great use of grammar. But don’t use a colon when the sentences are not connected with each other.)

Here’s an example of an incorrect use of a semicolon:

My father works with an insurance company; my best friend is Mangesh.

These sentences have no connection with each other, and they shouldn’t be brought together using a semicolon.

Correction #3: Using a comma and a coordinating conjunction

This is a great way to add sentences together. The coordinating conjunction shows what kind of relation the sentences have with each other.

Coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS)

Comma splice sentence: I can’t eat it, you should not wait for me and try it.
Correction: I can’t eat it, but you should not wait for me and try it.
Correction: I can’t eat it, and you should not wait for me and try it.

Comma splice sentence: It’s getting late now, you must leave.
Correction: It’s getting late now, so you must leave.
Correction: You must leave, for it’s getting late now.

Correction #4: Using a colon

This is another way to fix a comma splice in English. But make sure you use a colon to add two sentences when the second sentence explains, justifies, or concludes the first one, or when the focus is simply on the second sentence.

Comma splice sentence: This is not just a job, this is everything to me.
Correction: This is not just a job: this is everything to me.

(Here, the focus is on the second sentence. It concludes the first sentence.)

Comma splice sentence: My father will never eat eggs, it is a life, according to him.
Correction: My father will never eat eggs: it is a life, according to him.

(In the sentence, the second sentence explains the first one, and we can, rightfully, use a colon to bring them together.)

Correction #5: Using a subordinating conjunction

Using a subordinating conjunction before an independent clause makes it a dependent clause. But it solves our problem. Let’s find out HOW.

Subordinating conjunctions: as, because, since, unless, as, until, when, where, why, how, if etc.

Comma splice sentence: I can’t marry her, she will ruin my life.
Correction: I can’t marry her because she will ruin my life.

NOTE: if the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, we need to use a comma after it.

Correction: Because she will ruin my life, I can’t marry her.

Comma splice sentence: I won’t be going to the dance class, it is extremely boring.
Correction: I won’t be going to the dance class, it is extremely boring.

Comma splice sentencesCorrections
I can’t marry her, she will ruin my life.
I can’t marry her. She will ruin my life.
I can’t marry her; she will ruin my life.
I can’t marry her, for she will ruin my life.
I can’t marry her because she will ruin my life.
I can’t marry her: she will ruin my life.
Last night, we watched a movie, it was dark and scary.
Last night, we watched a movie. It was dark and scary.
Last night, we watched a movie; it was dark and scary.
Last night, we watched a movie, and it was dark and scary.
You are an amazing dancer, you will be a superstar soon.
You are an amazing dancer. You will be a superstar soon.
You are an amazing dancer; you will be a superstar soon.
You are an amazing dancer, and you will be a superstar soon.
You will be a superstar soon as you are an amazing dancer.
You will be a superstar soon: you are an amazing dancer.
This is not just a job, this is everything to me.
This is not just a job. This is everything to me.
This is not just a job; this is everything to me.
This is not just a job: this is everything to me.
I won’t be going to the dance class, it is extremely boring.
I won’t be going to the dance class. It is extremely boring.
I won’t be going to the dance class; it is extremely boring.
I won’t be going to the dance class: it is extremely boring.
I won’t be going to the dance class, for it is extremely boring.
I won’t be going to the dance class as it is extremely boring.
I can’t eat it, you should not wait for me and try it.
I can’t eat it. You should not wait for me and try it.
I can’t eat it; you should not wait for me and try it.
I can’t eat it, so you should not wait for me and try it.
You should not wait for me and try it because I can’t eat it.
It’s getting late now, you must leave.
It’s getting late now. You must leave.
It’s getting late now; you must leave.
It’s getting late now: you must leave.
It’s getting late now, and you must leave.
It’s getting late now, so you must leave.
You must leave because it is getting late.
My father will never eat eggs, it is a life, according to him.
My father will never eat eggs. It is a life, according to him.
My father will never eat eggs; it is a life, according to him.
My father will never eat eggs: it is a life, according to him.
My father will never eat eggs as it is a life, according to him.
Comma splice examples and their corrections

Test how much you have understood!

Find the run-on sentences (comma splice) in the examples below and correct:

  1. If you don’t love what you do, quit it.
  2. After we finished the match, we went to a party.
  3. I don’t hate her, I just don’t like her attitude.
  4. Don’t tell them that you are leaving, they will panic.
  5. Jane could have won the match, she just wasn’t feeling good.

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