On Comma Splices

Hello, my beloved little sugar plums!

As I sit here, eating avocados, garbanzo beans, and cherry tomatoes, I started pondering about all the instances I see comma splices online. Whether it’s on social media, professional websites, or emails, people seem to have forgotten what’s the purpose of a period. And what kind of existence would this be if I allowed this to go on? In the words of Aladdin, I can show you the world, darlings; shining, shimmering, splendid… One in which people  use commas correctly. You can be one of those people, or you can be the kind of job applicant whose résumé (CV) always ends up in a trash can.

So what exactly, is a comma splice?

Alright, my lovely gumdrops. A comma splice is when a person uses a comma to join two independent clauses. For example: I love puppies, my aunt has one named Pongo, when I was a kid I had a bird, now I just love all animals.

Read that abhorrent run-on sentence again, and let’s take it by bite sized parts. How many complete clauses does it include? I’ll help you:

1. I love puppies.
2. My aunt has one named Pongo.
3. When I was a kid, I had a bird.
4. Now, I just love all animals.

There are four separate sentences, all with a subject (person, place, or thing), a verb (action word), and a predicate (the remainder of the sentence, that tells you something about the subject.

In the sentence “I love puppies,” “I” is the subject. “Love” is the verb. “Puppies” is the predicate.
In the sentence “My aunt has one named Pongo”, “My aunt” is the subject, “has” is the verb”, “one named Pongo” is the predicate. And so on, and so forth.

When you have complete, independent clauses, you can either end each one with a period; or if the clauses are closely related, you can use a semicolon ( ; ).

Let’s read the sentences with the proper grammar:

I love puppies. My aunt has one named Pongo. When I was a kid, I had a bird; now, I just love all animals. 

Each clause is separated by a period, because they are full, independent clauses. However, I inserted a semicolon between the last two sentences, because they are arguably, closely related (i.e., your love for animals started when you first got a bird as a child).

So what’s the purpose of a comma?

A comma, by itself, gives a sentence more clarity by providing pauses between words that are all related to the same sentence.

I have three puppies: Lady, Pluto, and Bolt.

Generally, I’d prefer to go to Paris than to Porto. 

I thought she was really friendly, but she then turned around and was so rude to the person standing in line behind her. 

Next time you write a sentence, if you’re using a comma, ask yourself, “Are these two clauses separate sentences?” If they are, don’t use a comma to separate them. If you do, tonight, a ghost will hover over your body and stare at you while you sleep.

Have a wonderful day, little munchkins! Sleep well!

Much love,

The Fairy Godwriter

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