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Comma Splices: How To Fix Them.

Students often receive papers back with marginal comments from their teachers, and one of the most common errors of punctuation (and grammar, in a way) that is flagged in this way is the comma splice. What are comma splices? What causes them? How can they be fixed?

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Comma Splices

Students often receive papers back with marginal comments from their teachers, and one of the most common errors of punctuation (and grammar, in a way) that is flagged in this way is the comma splice. What are comma splices? What causes them? How can they be fixed?

The error itself is a punctuation problem with an underlying misunderstanding about sentence structure.

Example of error: The imposing volume sat on the library table, it was opened to page 4.

The error was caused by joining two independent clauses with a comma.

Independent clause #1: the imposing volume sat on the library table
Independent clause #2: it was opened to page 4

The fixes are varied, depending on the meaning the writer wishes to convey.

If the two clauses represent somewhat separate but clearly related ideas, the best choice is to separate them with a semi-colon.

Example: The imposing volume sat on the library table; it was opened to page 4.

If the ideas are really quite separate but merely sequential, it might be wise to make them into two separate sentences that begin with capitals and are separated from each other by a period.

Example: The imposing volume sat on the library table. A stack of bound periodicals was piled on the next table over.

If the sentences are, in fact, independent ideas that have a relationship because they happened together, in contrast to each ...

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