S1 Comma Splices


In a comma splice, two independent clauses are improperly joined by a comma.


Because a comma splice can be edited in many ways, first consider how the ideas in the two independent clauses relate. For example, are they equally important, or does one depend on or explain the other? Then select the strategy from the following that will best clarify this relationship for a reader.

Add a subordinating conjunction to one clause, rewording as necessary.

By beginning a clause with a subordinating conjunction, you indicate that the clause is subordinate to—and dependent on—the main clause. Usually, the dependent clause explains or qualifies the independent clause. Select the subordinating conjunction carefully so that it tells the reader how the ideas in the clauses relate to each other.

Separate the independent clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

The coordinating conjunction tells the reader that the ideas in the two clauses are closely related and equally important.


Separate the independent clauses with a semicolon.

The semicolon tells the reader that the ideas in the two clauses are closely connected, but it implies the connection rather than stating it. Occasionally, a colon may be used to introduce a second independent clause. [[LP Xref]] See P4-a.

Separate the independent clauses with a semicolon or a period, and add a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase.

The period shows a stronger break. Conjunctive adverbs are used more frequently in formal than in informal writing.

Turn the independent clauses into separate sentences.

The period at the end of the first independent clause tells the reader that one complete sentence is ending and another is beginning.

Turn one independent clause into a phrase that modifies the other.

Eliminating the subject and verb in the second clause turns it into a modifying phrase, reducing the number of words and closely connecting the ideas.