The EFC Writer – Comma Splices

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be). 

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: Comma Splices

Listen, I know. You’re in the zone. You’re on a roll. You’re so wrapped up in getting to the end of the chapter before you lose track of what the hero is going to do that you forget to stop your sentence. It happens. That’s why we edit, right? RIGHT. But let’s make sure we’re editing correctly, eh, people?

A comma splice is a run-on sentence someone tried to fix with a comma. They look like this:

I couldn’t figure out what to say, I was speechless.

Melissa loves watching Dr. Who, Chrissy does not watch it. 

Kudos to you for realizing you needed to do something, but a comma isn’t going to cut it. To fix a comma splice, just up your punctuation game to either a period or a semicolon:

I couldn’t figure out what to say; I was speechless. 

Melissa loves watching Dr. Who. Chrissy does not watch it. 

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

“Run-ons result from two or more independent clauses joined into one sentence that lacks punctuation or conjunctions. . . . People often speak in run-on sentences, where they are less noticed because the speaker usually pauses and changes his tone in verbal speech. . . . Considered errors of punctuation, run-ons should always be corrected.” (Robbins, Lara M., Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips, Alpha 2007, 78)

“A comma splice is a run-on sentence that’s joined by a comma even though stronger punctuation is necessary to correct the sentence.” (Robbins, Lara M., Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips, Alpha 2007, 79)

 

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

run–on:
adjective:
:  continuing without rhetorical pause from one line of verse into another :  characterized by enjambment — contrasted with end-stopped

 

Further Reading/Sources: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

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