What is a comma splice and how to fix it?

When two independent clauses accidentally (or deliberately) get spliced by a comma — instead of being separated by a semicolon or period — that’s called a comma splice.

Valentina Dordevic
Valentina Dordevic

When two independent clauses accidentally (or deliberately) get spliced by a comma — instead of being separated by a semicolon or period — that’s called a comma splice. Most often, it’s an error that may confuse the reader. But sometimes it is not an issue at all. You can use comma splice as a stylistic device in order to draw attention to a certain mood or to point out the link between clauses.

If we want to break rules to produce the effect that we want, that’s fine. But we need to master the rules first. Otherwise, our writing skills may appear quite poor.

What is a comma splice?

Comma splices are pretty similar to run-on sentences. When two or more independent clauses (which can function independently) get linked improperly, that’s a run-on sentence. If that improper connection is made with a comma, that’s called a comma splice. Sounds confusing? Let’s see some examples.

Comma splice example

The cat has eaten a steak, she’s not hungry.
I’m expecting guests, I can’t go with you today.
He can’t open the door, it’s locked.
I did my homework, I’ve forgotten to bring it to the class.
I’m studying English grammar, it’s easy.
He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s going to win.
I came, I saw, I conquered.

All these sentences have one thing in common. They’re made of two or three complete sentences (aka independent clauses) loosely linked by a comma.

Fixing comma splices

Comma splices are easier to fix than to spot. Once you’ve noticed one in your writing, you can see at least a couple of ways to rewrite the sentence. If you’re not sure what to do, try one of these solutions.

1. Use but, because, and, so, since, or any other appropriate conjunction.

He can’t open the door because it’s locked.
I did my homework, but I've forgotten to bring it to the class.
The cat has eaten a steak, so she's not hungry.
He’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s going to win.

2. Replace the comma with a period.

The cat has eaten a steak. She's not hungry.
I'm studying English grammar. It's easy.
He can't open the door. It's locked.

3. Replace the comma with a semicolon.

I'm expecting guests; I can't go with you today.
I did my homework; I've forgotten to bring it to the class.

4. Rewrite the sentence completely.

The cat’s not hungry because she has eaten a steak.
I did my homework, but unfortunately, I’ve forgotten to bring it to the class.
I can’t go with you today as I’m expecting guests.

5. Just leave it as it is.

I came, I saw, I conquered.
EnglishWhich is correct

Valentina Dordevic

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