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Understanding a Comma Splice (Examples and How to Fix Them)

A comma splice or comma splice error is a specific type of comma error that occurs when independent clauses or sentences are incorrectly joined together by a comma without using a conjunction. While it is grammatically acceptable to use a comma to connect a dependent clause and an independent clause, combining two independent clauses without a conjunction in between is not acceptable.

How to spot a comma splice

A comma splice can be identified in different steps.

  • The first step is to identify the clause occurring in the first part of the given sentence. Independent clauses can stand alone and also contain a subject as well as a verb. Dependent clauses, though they have a subject and verb, are incapable of expressing a complete idea on their own. 
  • Analyze the second section of the given sentence and identify the clause.
  • If both sections of the sentence are independent clauses and they are joined using a comma without a conjunction, then the sentence has a comma splice.
Comma splicean instance of using a comma to link two independent clauses (which should instead be linked by a colon, semicolon, or conjunction), as in he loves cooking, he’s great at making curries.

How to resolve comma splices

A comma splice can be fixed using different methods:

Use a semicolon

The simplest method is to use a semicolon in place of a comma to join the independent clauses. A simple substitution of a semicolon for the comma will join the two connected clauses correctly.

Make distinct sentences

Comma splices can also be fixed by creating two separate complete sentences and swapping out the comma for a punctuation mark. This approach is ideal when the two independent clauses convey different ideas.

Use a conjunction

Writers usually employ conjunctions, which are connecting words, to link clauses and create compound sentences. In English, there are 7 coordinating conjunctions. They are “for,” “and,” “but,” “or,” “nor,” “so”, and “yet”. Unless the phrases are brief, a comma is normally included before the conjunction. Simply place the correct conjunction just after the comma.

Use subordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions can be used to link clauses just like coordinating conjunctions. Examples include “although,” “because,” “if,” “unless,” “when,” and “until”. Use the most appropriate subordinating conjunction in place of the comma.

Comma splice
Comma splice

Examples of comma splices

Consider the following examples of comma splices and their corrections:

Example 1:

Anna drinks tea, she doesn’t drink coffee.


Anna drinks tea; she doesn’t drink coffee.

Example 2:

I am considering skipping French class, it is really difficult.


I am considering skipping French class; it is really difficult.

Example 3:

I bought an apple, it was rotten.


I bought an apple, but it was rotten.

Example 4:

The train was late, we traveled by bus.


The train was late, so we traveled by bus.

Example 5:

Lily is a doctor, Rose is a nurse.


Lily is a doctor. Rose is a nurse.

Example 6:

I do not like cooked tomatoes, however I like raw ones.


I do not like cooked tomatoes; however, I like raw ones.

I do not like cooked tomatoes. However, I like raw ones.

I do not like cooked tomatoes, but I like raw ones.

Fixing a comma splice
Fixing a comma splice

Exercise on comma splices

Now that comma slices have been discussed in detail, use the practice assignment provided below to assess your understanding of comma splices. Identify the sentences that have comma splices.

  1. James has visited South Africa, Italy, France, and India.
  2. I would like to visit my grandma this Sunday, however I need to study for my English test.
  3. Marie climbed the tree, rescued the cat, and dressed its wounds.
  4. The restaurant is closed, the bar is open.
  5. Robert sings well, he is going to be in a band soon.
  6. Janine lost her cat, she is giving out posters in the village square.
  7. Strawberries are really not berries, they are pseudocarps.
  8. I love you, I am not in love with you.
  9. I am going to the office, Mary is waiting for me there.
  10. I take my dog for walks in the park, he loves rolling around in the grass.


Can comma splices be used in any kind of writing?

Comma splices should be strictly avoided in all kinds of formal writing. But they can be used in artistic or creative writing, like fiction writing. In this case, comma splices are used to convey the observations or thoughts of a character or even create an air of grandeur. Comma splices are used in poetry to create a good rhythm. But in fictional writing as well, comma splices should be used sparingly. Examples include, “No pain, no gain,” and “he was handsome, he was charming, he was a visionary.”

How can a writer resolve comma splices caused by conjunctive adverbs?

Comma splices can also be caused by improper use of conjunctive adverbs like “however,” “thus,” “nonetheless,” and “therefore.” A comma is usually put after the conjunctive adverb. These conjunctive adverbs can be frequently mistaken by writers as coordinating conjunctions. This can be fixed by changing the comma to a period or semicolon.

Common questions

When does a comma splice occur?

A comma splice occurs when two or more complete sentences are joined only with a comma.

How can I correct comma splices?

Simply create two separate sentences. It is the easiest way to fix a comma splice and to ensure it is not a run-on sentence.


  1. Wikipedia – Comma splice
  2. Merriam-Webster – Definition
  3. Wiktionary – comma splice
  4. Grammarly – Comma Splice—Learn How to Avoid It

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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