Comma Splice Examples and How to Fix Them

A comma splice is a common grammatical error in English. Writers most often make this mistake when they are trying to "write by ear." It's a common idea that a comma indicates a pause where a reader or speaker should take a breath, but simply adding commas when you feel a break is needed is not a reliable way to make sure you're punctuating your sentences correctly.

Correcting a Comma Splice Example Correcting a Comma Splice Example
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What Is a Comma Splice?

A comma splice is when two independent clauses are incorrectly joined by a comma to make one sentence. To avoid comma splices, you first need to be able to identify an independent clause.

How To Fix Comma Splices

There are three ways to fix a comma splice. First, you can split the part before the comma and the part after the comma into two complete sentences with a period (you could also use a semi-colon for a less defined split). Here's how to fix our example from above:

I went to the mall. Jane was there.

Second, you can join two independent clauses by adding a coordinating conjunction such as "and" after the comma. For example:

I went to the mall, and Jane was there.

Finally, you can change one of the independent clauses to a dependent clause by adding a subordinating conjunction. For example:

When I went to the mall, Jane was there.

I went to the mall because Jane was there.

Note that if your dependent clause comes first, you must use a comma to join the two clauses. If your dependent clause is second, no comma is required.

Fixing Comma Splices With Periods

You can split the two independent clauses in a comma splice into two complete sentences with a period. For example:

  • Comma Splice: I went to the mall, Jane was there.
  • Correction: I went to the mall. Jane was there.
  • Comma Splice: I love going to the movies, it’s so fun.
  • Correction: I love going to the movies. It’s so fun.
  • Comma Splice: She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.
  • Correction: She took the boy's cookies away. That was mean.
  • Comma Splice: I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.
  • Correction: I think he's in love. He acts so weird now.
  • Comma Splice: She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.
  • Correction: She was sad when the cat ran away. She doesn't want to get a new one.

Alternately, you can use a semicolon for a less-defined split:

I went to the mall; Jane was there.

Examples of Comma Splices and Corrections

Check your understanding of comma splices by studying the examples and corrections below.

Fixing Comma Splices With Coordinating Conjunctions

You can also join two independent clauses by adding a coordinating conjunction, such as and, after the comma. This can provide better flow and keep you from sounding too stilted and robotic. For example:

  • Comma Splice: I went to the mall, Jane was there.
  • Correction: I went to the mall, and Jane was there.
  • Comma Splice: I love going to the movies, it’s so fun.
  • Correction: I love going to the movies, for it’s so fun.
  • Comma Splice: She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.
  • Correction: She took the boy's cookies away, and that was mean.
  • Comma Splice: I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.
  • Correction: I think he's in love, for he acts so weird now.
  • Comma Splice: She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.
  • Correction: She was sad when the cat ran away, but she doesn't want to get a new one.

 

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Correcting by Making Two Sentences

Error

Correction

I love going to the movies, it's so fun.

I love going to the movies. It's so fun.

She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.

She took the boy's cookies away. That was mean.

The teacher was angry, the students were too loud.

The teacher was angry. The students were too loud.

I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.

I think he's in love. He acts so weird now.

She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.

She was sad when the cat ran away. She doesn't want to get a new one.

We went to the store, we bought milk.

We went the to the store. We bought milk.

I often walk the dogs on the beach, they love splashing in the waves.

I often walk the dogs on the beach. They love splashing in the waves.

I can't wait to go on vacation, it will be hot and sunny.

I can't wait to go on vacation. It will be hot and sunny.

Fixing Comma Splices With Subordinating Conjunctions

Finally, you can change one of the independent clauses to a dependent clause by adding a subordinating conjunction. Note that if the dependent clause comes first, you must use a comma to join the two clauses. If your dependent clause is second, no comma is required.

  • Comma Splice: I went to the mall, Jane was there.
  • Correction: When I went to the mall, Jane was there.
  • Correction: I went to the mall because Jane was there.
  • Comma Splice: I love going to the movies, it’s so fun.
  • Correction: I love going to the movies because it’s so fun.
  • Comma Splice: She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.
  • Correction: When she took the boy’s cookies away, that was mean.
  • Comma Splice: I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.
  • Correction: I think he's in love because he acts so weird now.
  • Comma Splice: She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.
  • Correction: Even though she was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.
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Correcting by Using Coordinating Conjunctions

Error

Correction

I love going to the movies, it's so fun.

I love going to the movies, for it's so fun.

She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.

She took the boy's cookies away and that was mean.

The teacher was angry, the students were too loud.

The teacher was angry, for the students were too loud.

I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.

I think he's in love, for he acts so weird now.

She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.

She was sad when the cat ran away, but she doesn't want to get a new one.

We went to the store, we bought milk.

We went the to the store and we bought milk.

I often walk the dogs on the beach, they love splashing in the waves.

I often walk the dogs on the beach, for they love splashing in the waves.

I can't wait to go on vacation, it will be hot and sunny.

I can't wait to go on vacation, for it will be hot and sunny.

When Is It Okay to Use Comma Splices?

You generally want to avoid comma splices, especially in more formal writing. In fiction and other creative writing, comma splices are a perfectly fine stylistic choice. In dialogue or narration, comma splices might convey a person speaking in a rush with minimal pauses.

In everyday writing, comma splices are fine in idiomatic uses and in lists. For example:

  • We came, we saw, we conquered.
  • The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.
  • Don’t worry, be happy.
  • He finished the pizza, the party was over, the sink was stacked with plates.
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Correcting by Creating a Dependent Clause

Error

Correction

I love going to the movies, it's so fun.

I love going to the movies because it's so fun.

She took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.

When she took the boy's cookies away, that was mean.

The teacher was angry, the students were too loud.

The teacher was angry because the students were too loud.

I think he's in love, he acts so weird now.

I think he's in love because he acts so weird now.

She was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.

Even though she was sad when the cat ran away, she doesn't want to get a new one.

We went to the store, we bought milk.

We went the to the store where we bought milk.

I often walk the dogs on the beach, they love splashing in the waves.

I often walk the dogs on the beach since they love splashing in the waves.

I can't wait to go on vacation, it will be hot and sunny.

I can't wait to go on vacation as it will be hot and sunny.

Build Strong, Splice-Free Sentences

Get used to asking yourself if the two parts of your sentence can stand alone as independent clauses. If so, you may have a comma splice on your hands. Try varying the way you correct comma splices to make for more interesting sentences. When you master this trick, your English grammar will automatically improve.

Strong Sentences

Once you get used to asking yourself if the two parts of your sentence can stand alone as independent clauses, you'll be able to correct comma splices in your writing with ease. To add interest to your written work, try varying the way you correct a comma splice so your sentences don't all sound the same. When you master this trick, your English grammar will automatically improve.