One of the most frequently made comma errors is the comma splice.

A comma splice is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two independent clauses. Here’s an example: “Miss Rev is the First Lady of Aggieland, (comma) she is a beautiful dog.”

Both “Miss Rev is the First Lady of Aggieland” and “she is a beautiful dog” are independent clauses. This means that they can stand on their own as sentences.

Unfortunately, a comma just isn’t strong enough to hold together two independent clauses all by itself, so it needs help! To correct a comma splice, you have three options.

The comma can be replaced by a period, like this: “Miss Rev is the First Lady of Aggieland. (period) She is a beautiful dog.” Periods are strong enough on their own to connect both independent clauses.

Or you can give the comma some help from one of these conjunctions: “for”, “and”, “nor”, “but”, “or”, “yet”, or “so”. You can remember these from their popular acronym “FANBOYS”

If we apply this to our sentence we have, “Miss Rev is the First Lady of Aggieland, (comma) and she is a beautiful dog.”

Another way to fix a comma splice is by using a semicolon. Just replace the comma with the stronger semicolon. Like this: “Miss Rev is the First Lady of Aggieland; (semicolon) she is a beautiful dog.”

Now we don’t want to give commas a bad rap for not being strong enough to hold together two independent clauses. They’re just a little too much for commas to handle! But commas are perfect for holding together a dependent clause and an independent clause. We can see that here: “When I saw Miss Rev, (comma) I took a photo!”

Here we see that “When I saw Miss Rev” cannot stand by itself. It just wouldn’t make sense all on its own! So, it is followed by a comma and an independent clause, “I took a photo”, which completes the statement and makes it whole.

Remember, you can use a comma by itself when it’s helping connect an independent clause with a dependent clause. But, a comma needs some help from a FANBOY when connecting two independent clauses, or it needs to be replaced with a period or a semicolon.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute The University Writing Center, Texas A&M University.

Sitemap Login