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The comma splice.

The comma splice is one of the most frequent mistakes made when using a comma. The comma splice occurs when a comma is used to connect two independent clauses.

In this example the two clauses make sense on their own. Connecting them with a comma is incorrect

Jim usually gets on with everybody, he is an understanding person.

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Have a go at this question.

1

Tick the sentences showing the comma splice.

a) Paul loves to travel, he visits Hungary at least once a year.
b) Flying back from Greece, we saw a beautiful sunset.
c) I always find writing essays difficult, I usually leave them to the last minute.
d) She makes a smashing apple pie, I love it.
a) Correct. It's the comma splice. a) It's the comma splice. b) Correct. The comma here sets off the introductory phrase. b) The comma here sets off the introductory phrase. c) Correct. It's the comma splice. c) It's the comma splice. d) Correct. It's the comma splice. d) It's the comma splice.
Check your answer

If you have two independent clauses that need to be separated, you have several choices:

You can make them into two sentences using a full stop. This is probably the easiest solution but may not be the best in terms of style or developing your argument.

Jim usually gets on with everybody. He is an understanding person.

You can use a semicolon. Semicolons should not be overused but can be very powerful when used in the correct situations. In our example, using a semi-colon suggests a link between the two clauses without stating that link specifically. This can be a powerful tool in developing a convincing argument.

Jim usually gets on with everybody; he is an understanding person.

You can introduce a conjunction to connect the sentences. By doing this, you make the connection between the two more explicit.

Jim usually gets on with everybody because he is an understanding person.

Jim usually gets on with everybody, as he is an understanding person.

Test your understanding of the comma splice with this exercise.