Comma Splice

The Comma Splice is one of the most common punctuation errors.  I’m not sure why that is, but if you are making that mistake, you have some good company.

However, you need to learn how to correct the error and to write correctly.

Compare to the period.  When I wrote about the period, I mentioned that you might called the period a “full stop.” 

  • In the UK, instead of the term “period,” people actually do use the term “full stop.” 
  • It is quite descriptive. 


Understand the sentence.  So, the key is to understand what comprises a sentence.

Basically, the end of a sentence must have a period or full-stop. 

Comma Splice.  The comma splice is the error that results when – instead of the period or “full stop” – you add a comma at the end of the sentence.  You are, in fact, “splicing together” two sentences with only a comma. 

And we all know that the end of a sentence requires a period – not a comma.

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Let’s take an example.

John is going to Disney World next week. (Correct)

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The above is a sentence. It has a subject and a verb. It also has a few modifiers which help to make the sentence particularly meaningful.

  • The subject is the proper noun, “John.”  
  • The verb is “is going.”
  • The phrase “to Disney World next week” answers the question “Where?” after the verb and is an adverb phrase. 


The basics required to make a sentence, however, are only a subject and verb.  “John is going.”

Punctuation.  Note the punctuation at the end of the sentence. 

  • A period is used. 
  • Very simple. 
  • Very easy.

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Now, if we add another sentence, we need to punctuate it in the same way.

John is going to Disney World next week.  In April, he is travelling to Canada.  (Correct)

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  • Two sentences.  
  • Each sentence ends with a period.  
  • Fantastic! 

The comma splice, on the other hand, would look like the following:

John is going to Disney world next week, in April, he is travelling to Canada. (Incorrect)




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Other examples of the Comma Splice

Here are other examples of the error:

  • Actually I was doing it the way you told me, it was always working until today.
  • OK, thank you, I will work on it and get it finished quickly.
  • My name is Steve Robertson, I am currently employed as a Technical Illustrator.

The correct versions would be:

  • Actually, I was doing it the way you told me.  It was always working until today.
  • Okay.  Thank you.  I will work on it, and get it finished quickly.
  • My name is Steve Robertson.  I am currently employed as a Technical Illustrator.


It seems so straightforward to avoid this common error.  But when you think quickly and write quickly – without really thinking – then it may be quite easy to make mistakes!

A sentence can be considered as one complete thought. 

So, you should be able to conquer that challenge with the dreaded comma splice if you

  • place periods after your complete thoughts
  • begin a new complete thought with a capital letter


Here are some test questions...

Here are some test questions to test yourself:

Are these correct or incorrect? 

  • It doesn’t matter what kind of letter you need to write, you should always plan what you want to say before you start writing.
  • By making an outline.  You will keep your thoughts organized, here are some areas to think about as you plan.
  • I’ll not try to offer suggestions on the format, as others are clearly more qualified to do that, I am more concerned about the location and date of the gathering.

Here are the answers and corrections:

  • Incorrect.   Change the comma to a period to correct.

It doesn’t matter what kind of letter you need to write.  You should always plan what you want to say before you start writing. (Correct)

  • Incorrect.  You have a sentence fragment at the start and then the comma joining two sentences.

By making an outline, you will keep your thoughts organized.  Here are some areas to think about as you plan. (Correct)

  • Incorrect.  Two rather long sentences, joined by a comma.  There are two commas, however, and the first is correct.  The second must be changed to the period.  The first comma appears before a conjunction that joins two sentences.  (A bit complicated in the explanation.)

I’ll not try to offer suggestions on the format, as others are clearly more qualified to do that.   I am more concerned about the location and date of the gathering. (Correct)


LINK - Click this link to locate an excellent course in business writing.

LINK - Return from Comma Splice to Comma Usage.

LINK - Link from Comma Splice to Comma Rules.