Comma Splice Examples and How to Fix Them

A comma splice is when two or more independent clauses are incorrectly joined by a comma to make one sentence. Writers most often make this mistake when they are trying to "write by ear,” as a comma indicates a pause where a reader or speaker should take a breath. However, simply adding commas wherever you want isn’t always proper punctuation.

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

It is incorrect to join two independent clauses with a comma. This error is called a comma splice. For example:

I went to the mall, Jane was there.

“I went to the mall” is an independent clause that can stand alone as its own sentence. “Jane was there” is also an independent clause. 

How To Fix Comma Splices

Thankfully, you can fix comma splices fairly easily in a few different ways: using periods, coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

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.

 

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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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.

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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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.