Markham Correct

The dreaded comma splice!

Untitled  The most frequent mistake made with a comma is when it’s used to connect two independent clauses. This is what we refer to as the ‘comma splice’.

Julie loved France, she visited at least five times a year. 

Both clauses in the above sentence can stand alone, and as such should not be separated by a comma. To avoid the splice, you have several options:

1. You can use a semicolon in place of the comma. As long as you’re careful not to overuse them, semicolons can work wonders for your writing.

2. You can use a full stop. This is the quickest and easiest fix, but also perhaps the clunkiest. Probably not an option you’d want to take too often.

3. You can introduce a conjunction to connect the clauses. This is perhaps the most common fix.

I see writers comma splicing all the time. When we write, ideas are churning through our brains at a rate of knots and rules can often go out the window. When it comes to writing style though, it’s really useful to bear something as simple and as common as the comma splice in mind, because avoiding it will not only make your writing more grammatically correct, but can also lend fresh, stylistic variety to your work.

If you want to test your understanding of the comma splice with a few practical examples, The University of Bristol has a nice exercise available to all which you can find here.


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