Don’t splice and dice–your commas that is!

What on earth do you mean? I’m talking about the comma splice.

What is it?

This is when a comma is used to splice two independent clauses like so:

“Jane sprinted as fast as her legs would take her, the sound of zombie feet pounded in ears.”

Or try this one:

Jane enjoyed cookie-crumble ice cream, she had a weakness for anything with cookies.

What’s so wrong with this: it is not the job of the comma to join two main clauses. The correct grammar usage would be to use one of the following:

(1) You could use a period to separate the two complete sentences:

Jane sprinted as fast as her legs would take her. The sound of zombie feet pounded in her ears.

Jane enjoyed cookie-crumble ice cream. She had a weakness for anything with cookies.

It is the periods role to separate two complete sentences.

(2) Or, if the sentences are closely related, you can use a semicolon to connect them:

Jane sprinted as fast as her legs would take her; the sound of zombie feet pounded in her ears.

Jane enjoyed cookie-crumble ice cream; she had a weakness for anything with cookies.

(3) Or, in some circumstances, you can use a coordinating conjunction to fix the comma splice:

A comma and a coordinating conjunction can join two independent clauses. The following words are coordinating conjucntions: and, but, or, yet, not, so, for

I had to slightly tweak the first sentence to make it work, so you would get the idea:

Jane sprinted as fast as her legs would take her, but the sound of zombie feet still pounded in her ears.

I know comma splices sneak into my writing all the time, and are something I keep an eye out for during editing. How about you? Do you suffer from comma splice syndrome?

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