Comma Splices and Run-on Sentences
Next, read this lecture on how to fix comma splices and run-on sentences, and then complete the practice activities in which you correctly punctuate sentences to avoid the errors of comma splices and run-ons. Once you complete the practice activities, check your answers against the Answer Key. You will learn more about using commas and other punctuation to craft complete sentences in Unit 3.
A COMMA SPLICE occurs when a comma separates clauses that can each stand alone as a sentence.
Example: Albert Einstein worked as a clerk, he was a brilliant scientist.
The comma separates two complete sentences, creating a comma splice. Comma splices make sentences difficult to understand because ideas are not separated the way that they should be.
Another common error is the RUN-ON SENTENCE. This error occurs when two or more independent clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence are joined together. The clauses have no punctuation or linking words in between them. As a result, the sentence keeps on going after it should have ended, making it difficult to understand.
Example: Albert Einstein worked as a clerk he was a brilliant scientist.
This sentence joins two independent clauses without punctuation or linking words (conjunctions), creating a RUN-ON.
BEFORE YOU GO ON, REVIEW THESE TERMS:
Coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
Some students find the acronym FANBOYS helps them to remember these. A coordinating conjunction combines ideas in a sentence, giving the ideas equal emphasis.
Subordinating conjunctions: There are many, but here are some common ones:
after, although, as, because, before, even though, unless, when, where, while, until, in order that, if, since, once, etc.
A subordinating conjunction emphasizes one idea more than another.
Conjunctive adverbs: There are many, but here are some common ones:
however, furthermore, therefore, likewise, accordingly, similarly, consequently, moreover, etc.
A conjunctive adverb shows the relationship between independent clauses.
There are several ways to fix COMMA SPLICES and RUN-ON SENTENCES:
- Substitute a period for the comma to create two separate sentences.
- Put a coordinating conjunction – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so – after the comma.
- Use a subordinating conjunction to link the independent clauses.
- Change the comma to a semicolon.
- Use a semicolon with a conjunctive adverb to show the relationship between the ideas in the two clauses.
Remember, not all methods will fix every COMMA SPLICE or RUN-ON. Some work better than others in certain situations.
Albert Einstein worked as a clerk. He was a brilliant scientist.
Albert Einstein worked as a clerk, but he was a brilliant scientist.
Although Albert Einstein worked as a clerk, he was a brilliant scientist.
Albert Einstein worked as a clerk; he was a brilliant scientist.
Albert Einstein worked as a clerk; nevertheless, he was a brilliant scientist.
All of the above sentences are correct; however, you should know that if you use a semicolon to join independent clauses, the ideas in them should be closely related. For example, since the following two sentences are unrelated, linking them with a semicolon is incorrect:
I am trying to decide on a college major; I hope the dorms have a laundry facility.
Such a sentence is confusing because the two ideas are not closely related.
Practice I: Punctuate the following sentences using the comma rules:
- When the 1989 earthquake shook Santa Cruz Peter decided to move back to New York.
- Peter is majoring in Elementary Education isn't that right?
- Tim made a three-layer chocolate cake Nina tuned up the car.
- Lars has been studying Chinese for more than ten years he's never had the opportunity to visit China.
- She was on time for the date when she arrived he wasn't there.
Practice II: Correct FIVE of the following comma splices and run-on sentences by adding a period. Correct the other FIVE by using a comma and a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
- She doubted the value of yoga she decided to try it just once.
- I asked the guard for directions, she told me what time it was.
- California is suffering an energy crisis, everyone needs to conserve.
- Ruby is tiny she is less than five feet tall and weighs ninety-five pounds.
- First we hiked in the forest, we drove up to Mount Baker.
- Television commercials can have an adverse impact on children, it's hard to prevent them from watching TV.
- I loved the movie, most of my friends hated it.
- He has never won a dime playing the lottery every week he spends ten dollars on tickets.
- My high school adviser was close to me she was almost my best friend.
- Writing is sending, reading is receiving.
Source: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, http://opencourselibrary.org/eng-9y-pre-college-english/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.