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How to Correct Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences - English Grammar Lesson

Updated on April 11, 2019

Correcting Major Sentence Level Errors

As an English instructor, two of the major sentence level errors I see are comma splices and fused, or run-on, sentences. In this article, I will give four different ways to correct them, as well as tips on how to catch these errors in your own work.

What is a Semi-Colon?

I drew this semi-colon with Microsoft Paint.
I drew this semi-colon with Microsoft Paint. | Source

What is a Comma Splice?

A comma splice is the joining of two complete sentences with only a comma in-between. This is a major error.

Example: I like that book, I plan to read it next summer.

These are two separate sentences; thus, a comma is not the correct punctuation to separate the two. We will look at a corrected example after first reviewing run-on sentences.

What is a Run-On Sentence?

A run-on (also called “fused”) sentence has no punctuation between two complete sentences. The sentences are thus “fused” together with no punctuation. These “run-on” sentences are so called since they run into each other with nothing to set them apart.

Example: I like that book I plan to read it next summer.

What is a Comma Splice?

Ways to Correct Comma Splices and Run-Ons

1) Use a period: I like that book. I plan to read it next summer.

2) Use a semi-colon to connect two closely related sentences, which would work fine in this case: I like that book; I plan to read it next summer.

3) Use a comma and coordinating conjunction (and, or, but): I like that book, and I plan to read it next summer.

4) Make one of the sentences into a dependent clause, leaving the other as an independent clause: Because I like that book, I plan to read it next summer.

Tips to check for Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences

Read your work aloud. Does the sentence sound like it ends? Listen for the natural end of the sentence. Do you hear a noun and a verb and a completion of the sentence? Do you automatically pause as you end the first part of the sentence? Do you hear the second subject and verb start a second and new sentence? I have found that reading aloud is helpful for many people. Try it if you have trouble with comma splices and run-on sentences.

2011 Grammar Geek

Still confused about how to use (and not use) commas in run-on sentences and commas splices? Review even more with this book that combines grammar with humor!


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