(Bad grammar) signs from the road--part 2a
Can a word be substituted for your comma?
Previously I wrote a hub about what a comma splice is, and explained how replacing that comma with a semicolon generally fixes the issue. To review, a comma splice is when two related but separate ideas are linked together with a comma. Each idea could stand alone as a separate sentence, so the ideas need at least a semicolon, if not a period, to separate them.
Today I thought I would offer a few ways to tell if you indeed have created a comma splice.
The first photo, the one of the cider can, has the words "Drink it, it's good." This demand is clearly a comma splice, and here's how you tell: both phrases, the one before the comma, and the one after the comma, are both sentences all on their own. A sentence at the very least requires a verb and an object. "Drink" is a verb and "it" is the object. "It's" is a conjunction of "it" and "is," which really could be a sentence unto itself: "It is." But this sentence also includes the adjective "good." "Drink it, it is good."
Realizing that both phrases on either side of a comma are stand-alone sentences is a good way of recognizing you have written a comma splice. And earlier I mentioned that usually a semicolon is a good way to fix the comma splice. But how can you tell if you need to remedy your comma splice with a semicolon, or with a period? Ask yourself if you can add another word between the two phrases in place of that comma you incorrectly used.
Take the cider can, for example. Can we put a word in place of the comma? Sure! The phrase demands we drink this drink, and also says it's good. So the can could also read, "Drink it because it's good." That the two separate phrases can be linked together with one simple word in a manner than it not clunky is a great indicator that the use of a semicolon is called for.
Take the second photo, with the long phrase on it. Does this comma splice require a period or a semicolon? Well, can one word be put in place of that comma to form one sentence that doesn't sound clunky or awkward? "...so just be nice because it's that simple,"? Maybe, but it sounds a little strange, and a little like how a young child would speak. I can't think of any other word that could replace the comma without the sentence sounding off. That being said, a period is most likely your best bet for cleaning up your comma splice: "...so just be nice. It's that simple," is much better.
What is interesting about this second example is that there is a place where a semicolon could hypothetically be placed instead of a word, if the author of this statement wanted to use less characters. The author could have used a semicolon in place of the word "so" so the sentence would read, "...have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal life; just be nice. It's that simple." In this case the word "so" is preferred over the use of the semicolon because, without it, the reason we are being told to be nice is a little unclear. The sentence is much clearer with the inclusion of the word "so" instead of the semicolon. I just wanted to point that out because it's important to know when to use a semicolon and when not to. On a side note, the word "life" should be "lives" because there are "people" with "their" many lives, not one person with his or her singular life.
"So" and "because" are not the only two words that could be substituted for a comma in a comma splice. Other words such as "and" or "therefore," connecting words like that, could also be substituted. Here is an example sentence: "I ran around the block ten times as fast as I could; I'm tired now." Instead of the semicolon, you could put in the word "therefore." Here's another one: "I got my hair cut today; now it's shorter." Though this isn't the world's greatest sentence, it shows that instead of the semicolon, you could put the word "and" in instead: "I got my hair cut today and now it's shorter."
While reading another hubber's hub today I found another great example of a comma splice, this one particularly ugly: "Don't have any concerns about slathering it on any part of your body that has blemishes, people have even put coconut oil in their eyes to treat pink eye." This misuse of a comma is particularly awful for a few reasons. For one, these two ideas really have nothing to do with one another. The first clause is about using coconut oil (the "it" refers to coconut oil) for skin blemishes. The second clause is about using coconut oil for pink eye. Those two ideas are only loosely related in that they are uses for coconut oil. The second reason this is a particularly bad comma splice is that, while the second clause can stand alone, it's clearly a sentence that should be predicated by another one, just not the one the author chose to use here. The author of these two sentences pretty much just took two completely unrelated ideas and smooshed them together with a comma. Yuck. Though these two sentences require some editing, putting a period between them to signify them as two separate ideas is a good starting place.