Monday, January 9, 2012

The Comma Splice

Beware, citizen, for this is not really the Comma!   
This imposter is The Comma Splice, and as a sinister member of the Sabotage Squad (a.k.a. grammar mistakes), this counterfeit comma is out to fool you into making a classic grammar mistake: splicing together complete sentences.

Real commas are useful and powerful pieces of punctuation, but they don't have the power to join two complete sentences together.  That’s why true commas would never try to do such a thing.  But The Comma Splice is neither honest nor true, and that’s why she’s on a malicious mission to trick you into thinking that she has the power to join complete sentences.

For example:
They need help, I must fly to the rescue.

This sentence is not correct.  It’s a comma splice: a fake comma that is incorrectly splicing (or patching) together two complete sentences. 

Complete sentences cannot be correctly joined together by a single comma.  In order to be correct, complete sentences must either be: 1) ended with proper sentence-ending punctuation, 2) joined together by using the combination of a comma with a coordinating conjunction, or 3) joined together using a semicolon.  

To fix this sentence, we’ll use a semicolon, like this:

They need help; I must fly to the rescue.

There’s a correct way to join two complete sentences together, and there’s a wrong way; using a comma splice will never be a correct way.

So, citizen, now that you know about this counterfeit comma, The Comma Splice, don’t let her fool you into splicing your sentences together; because in the end, no matter how you splice it—it’s still a mistake!

EVIL POWER: 
The Comma Splice has the power to fool you into thinking that she can join together two complete sentences.

SUPER EXAMPLES:

1) 

I can’t believe it, he’s breaking loose.

comma splice: two complete sentences spliced together with a comma.

I can’t believe it.  He’s breaking loose.

Fix by: separating them out into two sentences, and  ended both with proper sentence-ending punctuation.

2) 

It’s true, I’m a mutant.

comma splice: two complete sentences spliced together with a comma.

It’s true; I’m a mutant.

Fix by:  adding a semicolon to properly join them into one sentence.

3)

You grab the cash, I’ll snatch the jewels.

comma splice: two complete sentences spliced together with a comma.

You grab the cash, and I’ll snatch the jewels.

Fixed by: adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction to join them into one sentence.

4)

Your muscles are strong, your mind is weak.

comma splice: two complete sentences spliced together with a comma.

Your muscles are strong, but your mind is weak.

Fixed by: adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction to join them into one sentence.

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