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TIPS AND TRICKS

 


 

COMMA SPLICE

 


 


This is often considered the cardinal sin of grammar. A comma splice basically consists of two independent clauses separated by a comma without the use of a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYSfor, and, not, but, or, yet, so). The hardest thing about comma splices is probably noticing them. Try to make a habit of checking the clauses before and after your commas to see if you have accidentally committed comma splice.

 

 

SOLUTIONS

 

A number of ways exist to correct a comma splice, the most obvious one being adding a coordinating conjunction before the second independent clause.

  • I love peaches oh so much, I do not love how sticky they make my fingers.
  • Revised: I love peaches oh so much, but I do not love how sticky they make my fingers.

 

Another possibility is adding a subordinating conjunction to one of the clauses to make it subordinate.

  • Revised: Although I love peaches oh so much, I do not love how sticky they make my fingers.

 

A quick-fix for any comma splice is switching the comma for a semicolon or period. This can, however, make the sentences sound choppy and unconnected. A colon can also be used to correct a comma splice if the second independent clause illustrates the idea expressed in the first.

  • He could barely hold up his head, his jewelled crown of joys was hopelessly heavy.
  • Revised: He could barely hold up his head. His jewelled crown of joys was hopelessly heavy.
  • Revised: He could barely hold up his head; his jewelled crown of joys was hopelessly heavy.
  • Revised: He could barely hold up his head: his jewelled crown of joys was hopelessly heavy.

 

Of course, this list does not include every single possible way to correct a comma splice. Rewriting the sentence any number of ways so that it no longer contains two independent clauses works just as well.

  • She stared up and the stars in a solemn but sickening silence, the burning balls of fire almost seemed to cackle at her demise.
  • Rewrite: She stared up and the stars, the burning balls of fire that almost seemed to cackle at her demise, in a solemn but sickening silence.

 

 

EXCEPTIONS

 

Extremely short sentences (especially ones that are parallel in structure) can be separated by only a comma. The same can be said for multiple short clauses (again, especially if they are parallel grammatically).

  • You go, I’ll stay.
  • I had my chance, you had your day, we had our fun.


 

PRACTICE

 


 

Correct any comma splices in the following sentences.

 

  1. You weren’t the only one to know the super secret pirate plan, Captain Schmuckles knew from the beginning.

Sample answerYou weren’t the only one to know the super secret pirate plan. Captain Schmuckles knew from the beginning.

 

  1. We’ve come too far to not eat the giant house of pizza crust, it was entrusted to us!

Sample answerWe’ve come too far to not eat the giant house of pizza crust that was entrusted to us!

 

  1. You should build the ice-cream boat now, otherwise it might melt by the time we set sail.

Sample answerYou should build the ice-cream boat now because otherwise it might melt by the time we set sail.

 

  1. There’s no need for that, we’ve already taken care of the mutinying garden gnomes.

Sample answerThere’s no need for that. We’ve already taken care of the mutinying garden gnomes.

 

  1. The coast was clear by nightfall, then the beach bums showed up and ruined everything.

Sample answerThe coast was clear by nightfall, but then the beach bums showed up and ruined everything.

 

  1. I can't come, I have Dungeons and Dragons practice.

Sample answerI can't come; I have Dungeons and Dragons practice.

 

  1. My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, unfortunately, however, they do not think it's better than yours.

Sample answerMy milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. Unfortunately, however, they do not think it's better than yours.

 

  1. This is a horrible mess, a horrible, hot, delicious mess.

Sample answerWhat comma splice? This sentence is fine.

 

  1. We should just go home, by the time we get there all the wing-growing lollies will be gone.

Sample answerWe should just go home. By the time we get there all the wing-growing lollies will be gone.

 

  1. When a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist, I immediately go make her a snack.

Sample answerThis sentence is correct.

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 


 

Dundurn Press. The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1997.

 

Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006.

 

Flick, Jane and Celia Millward. Handbook for Writers. 3rd Canadian ed. Toronto: Harcourt Brace & Company, Ltd., 1999.

 

Messenger, William E. et al. The Canadian Writer’s Handbook. 5th ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada, 2008.

 

The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. rev. and expanded. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

 


 

Created by: Diana Franz