As a highly reputable English language school in Hawaii, we know that learning to speak this difficult language involves not only verbalizing but reading, writing, listening to others, engaging in technology, and much more. When it comes to writing there are some challenging and “pesky” problems, such as comma splicing. What is this exactly, and how can you avoid it?
Comma splicing is essentially using a comma in a place where a period or semicolon should have been used. Depending on who you’re talking to, it may be considered a punctuation error or a run-on sentence.
Independent clauses can either be joined with a conjunction, or separated with a period and made into two separate sentences. Here are a few examples of comma splicing:
- Oranges are my favorite fruit, I’m not a fan of bananas.
- Math has always been an easy subject for me, I’ve always found English difficult.
- I am not mad at you, I am not pleased with you, either.
Once you recognize that you are guilty of this type of punctuation error in your writing, what can you do to fix it? It’s fairly easy. Add a conjunction, make separate sentences of the two independent clauses, or put a semicolon where the comma is. For instance:
Adding a conjunction to the last example makes more sense. “I am not mad at you, but I am not pleased with you, either.” In this example, the word “but” is a conjunction.
Using a semicolon instead of a comma often helps glue the two independent clauses together in a way that’s more cohesive or sounds better. For instance “Math has always been an easy subject for me; I’ve always found English difficult.” In many cases, you can simply make two separate sentences when a semicolon or conjunction doesn’t seem to work as well. “Math has always been an easy subject for me. I’ve always found English difficult.” This is perfectly acceptable, and eliminates comma splicing.
When is it proper to use a comma in a sentence? When separating a portion of the sentence that could be one by itself (a main clause) from a portion that could not be a sentence on its own (a subordinate clause). For instance:
“After we left the movie theater, we went to McDonald’s.” While “We went to McDonald’s” is a main clause that could be a correct sentence by itself, “After we left the movie theater” doesn’t make sense on its own and would be the subordinate clause. Therefore, the comma placement in this sentence is fine.
Yes, it all seems so confusing. Speaking and writing in English can be tough, but it’s a challenge that’s also fun for many students. If you’re ready to take on the most important language in the world in a place where tropical surroundings and fun adventures abound, consider our English language school in Hawaii. At ICC Hawaii, we make learning the English language fun!