What Is a Comma Splice, and How Do I Fix One?


Posted by Jake Magnum | November 6, 2017 | Proper Punctuation


What is a Comma Splice?

A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses in a sentence are separated by a comma that is not followed by a conjunction.

For those who are unfamiliar with these terms, an independent clause is a phrase that can stand alone as a grammatical sentence. A very simple independent clause would be, “I slept.”

A conjunction is a word that can join two words or clauses. Examples of common conjunctions are: although, and, but, because, or, so, unless, until, when, while, and yet.

Read a full discussion on conjunctions.

Let us now look at an example of a comma splice:

I was sick, I slept all day.

This sentence is ungrammatical because it contains two separate independent clauses–both “I was sick” and “I slept all day” can stand alone as full sentences. These two clauses are separated only by a comma, and a comma is not strong enough to separate two independent clauses.


Four Ways to Fix a Comma Splice

1) The simplest way to fix a comma splice is to change the comma to a period and then ensure that the letter which follows the period is capitalized.

I was sick. I slept all day.

2) Similarly, and more effectively if the two clauses are closely related (as they are in our example), you can replace the comma with a semi-colon. Semi-colons are commonly used to indicate that two sentences are closely related to each other.

I was sick; I slept all day.

3) Another way to fix a comma splice is to replace the comma with a coordinating conjunction (or to insert a conjunction after the comma).

I was sick and I slept all day.

I was sick, so I slept all day.

4) A conjunction does not need to be placed between the clauses for it to fix a comma splice. A comma splice can also be fixed by placing an appropriate conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.

Because I was sick, I slept all day.