Comma Splice | Examples, Definition & Rules

Commas updated on  November 10, 2023 4 min read
A comma splice is a grammatical error that occurs when two independent clauses are incorrectly joined using a comma. A clause is independent if it contains a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.

You can correct a comma splice in the following ways:

  • Add a coordinating conjunction (e.g., “and”) or a subordinating conjunction (e.g., “because”) to clarify the relationship between the two clauses
  • Use a period (.) instead of the comma. This creates two separate sentences
  • Use a semicolon (;) instead of the comma. This indicates that the two clauses are closely related

Examples: Comma splice

Examples: Comma splice correction

Eva is fast, Ken is faster.

Eva is fast, but Ken is faster.

You’re a talented musician, you should be proud.

You’re a talented musician. You should be proud.

I work from home, I don’t work from the office.

I work from home; I don’t work from the office.

You can check for this and other mistakes using the QuillBot grammar checker.


What is a comma splice?

A comma splice is a grammatical mistake that occurs when two independent clauses are connected using a comma without a conjunction. Comma splices can impact the flow and clarity of your writing.

You can fix a comma splice by adding a conjunction or by replacing the comma with a period or semicolon.

How to fix a comma splice by adding a conjunction

You can correct a comma splice by adding a coordinating or subordinating conjunction to one of the clauses. When you do this, it’s important not to remove the comma.

Adding a coordinating conjunction

You can keep the two clauses in a single sentence by adding a coordinating conjunction like “and,” “but,” or “so” directly after the comma. This helps to clarify the relationship between the two clauses.

Coordinating conjunction

Function

Example

And

Express a connection

It's late, and I'm tired.

But

Indicate a contrast

Julio owns a copy of that book, but he can't find it.

So

Introduce a consequence

That bar was closed, so we went to a different one.


Adding a subordinating conjunction

If you want to keep the two clauses in a single sentence, you can add a subordinating conjunction (e.g., “although,” “because,” “while”) to one of the clauses. This places an emphasis on the clause without the conjunction. It also turns the clause with the conjunction into a dependent clause.


Subordinating conjunction

Function

Example

Although

Express a contrast

Although John studied all night, he still didn't pass the exam.

Because

Introduce a consequence or outcome

I didn't go to the party because I had to work.

While

To mean "during the time that"

While Alicia was on the bus, she listened to an audiobook.


Conjunctive adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs (e.g., “however,” “moreover,” “thus,” “besides”) are used to connect two clauses and to clarify the relationship between them. They do this by modifying the first clause using the second.

Conjunctive adverbs are generally used at the beginning of a clause or sentence, and they are followed by a comma.

A comma splice can occur when a conjunctive adverb is incorrectly used as a coordinating conjunction. You can fix this by using a period or semicolon instead of a comma. In some instances, you can replace the conjunctive adverb with a coordinating conjunction.

Examples: Conjunctive adverbs and punctuation
I’d love to go to the cinema, however I’m busy tonight.
I’d love to go to the cinema; however I’m busy tonight.
I’d love to go to the cinema. However I’m busy tonight.
I’d love to go to the cinema, but I’m busy tonight.


How to fix a comma splice using a period

You can correct a comma splice by replacing the comma with a period. This creates two separate sentences and is especially effective when there isn’t a strong connection between the two clauses.


Examples: Fixing a comma splice with a period
Joan works in a restaurant, she enjoys writing poetry.
Joan works in a restaurant. She enjoys writing poetry.


How to fix a comma splice using a semicolon

You can fix a comma splice by replacing the comma with a semicolon when there is a clear sequential or logical connection between the two independent clauses. A semicolon indicates a close connection between the two parts of the sentence.

Examples: Fixing a comma splice with a semicolon
It started raining, Petra opened her umbrella.
It started raining; Petra opened her umbrella.

Is a comma splice ever acceptable?

Comma splices should be avoided in professional communication and academic writing. However, they are sometimes used in informal contexts like social media posts, text messaging, and emails.

Comma splices are also sometimes used in creative writing as a rhetorical device called asyndeton. For example, they are often used to indicate the fast pace of a character’s thoughts or speech or to suggest that the independent parts of a sentence form a thematic or conceptual whole.

Example: Asyndeton in Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies
“I am such a good man, at bottom, such a good man, how is it that nobody ever noticed it?”


Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Common mistakes

Commonly confused words

Rhetoric

Whoa or woah

Advisor vs adviser

Metonymy

Theirs or their's

Accept vs except

Synecdoche

Ours or our's

Affect vs effect

Situational irony

Forty or fourty

Among vs between

Irony

Sence or sense

Anymore vs any more

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has taught university English courses on effective research and writing. He is particularly interested in language, poetry, and storytelling.

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