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The term comma splice refers to a situation in which two or more independent clauses (complete sentences) are connected with a comma only.

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Presentation on theme: "The term comma splice refers to a situation in which two or more independent clauses (complete sentences) are connected with a comma only."— Presentation transcript:

1 The term comma splice refers to a situation in which two or more independent clauses (complete sentences) are connected with a comma only.

2 * For more information on this hierarchy, see “Punctuation as a System” When a writer ends a sentence, she must use the right punctuation to signal the end of the thought to her readers. The three types of punctuation strong* enough perform this function are the period, the question mark, and the exclamation point. A comma is too weak* to act as a boundary between the complete thoughts expressed by different sentences. In both examples, two individual sentences are related but complete and grammatically independent. I have been to the dentist, he hasn’t identified the source of my halitosis. EXAMPLE: I have been to the dentist, he hasn’t identified the source of my halitosis. Complete Sentence 1 Complete Sentence 2 EXAMPLE: It’s always difficult for me to escape from zombies by running, my legs get tired. It’s always difficult for me to escape from zombies by running, my legs get tired. Complete Sentence 1 Complete Sentence 2

3 There are several ways to approach the correction of a comma splice. Consider the subtly different effect each of these methods have on our sample comma splice sentence: The butcher was fond of long, quiet walks on the beach, his wife preferred lively evenings of gin rummy by a warm fire. PeriodSemicolon The butcher was fond of morning walks on the beach. His wife preferred lively evenings of gin rummy by a warm fire. The butcher was fond of morning walks on the beach; his wife preferred lively evenings of gin rummy by a warm fire. Using a period adds a greater degree of separation between the two ideas. Using a semicolon reduces the sense of separation and emphasizes the parallel quality of the ideas. Comma + Coordinating Conjunction*Total Rebuild The butcher was fond of morning walks on the beach, but his wife preferred lively evenings of gin rummy by a warm fire. The butcher (with his fondness for morning walks on the beach) and his wife (with her preference for lively evenings of gin rummy by a warm fire) exemplified the principle that opposites attract. You can vary the emphasis of your sentence depending on which coordinating conjunction you choose. Consider the different potential effects of this sentence if the “but” were replaced with another coordinating conjunction. Sometimes its worth it to set a problem sentence aside and try something entirely new. You might find a that a totally new sentence does a better job of expressing your idea than the original. *for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

4 The fundamental key to fixing comma splices is learning to identify independent clauses (complete sentences). If you can master this, you can easily determine whether your comma is splicing. The “it is obvious that...” technique is a useful strategy for identifying complete sentences. Obvious Sense of Completion Complete Sentence Sense of Incompleteness Not a Complete Sentence In a comma splice, the stuff on both sides of the comma will have that obvious sense of completion, indicating that the comma is inappropriately connecting (splicing) two independent clauses. Add the phrase “it is obvious that” to the beginning of each half of the sentence 1. 2.Listen carefully to the resulting phrase. Does it have an obvious sense of completion, or does it seem incomplete, like something more has to be coming? (Note: It is helpful to read the sentence aloud.) Using “it is obvious that...” Try it out on a couple of sample sentences Do we have a comma splice? What do you think? My Uncle Ned is a thoughtful gift-giver, he always sends me a shiny nickel in a brown paper envelope for my birthday. It is obvious that my Uncle Ned is a thoughtful gift-giver. It is obvious that he always sends me a shiny nickel in a brown paper envelope for my birthday. My delightful Cousin Sally is more generous but less consistent, sending me a crisp five dollar bill every two to six years. It is obvious that my delightful Cousin Sally is more generous but less consistent. It is obvious that sending me a crisp five dollar bill every two to six years. Comma splice? The second sentence does not have a sense of completion. We expect something more to follow. The second part, then, is not an independent clause, and the comma use is correct. Diagnosis: No Comma Splice Both sentences have an obvious sense of completion. Both, then, are independent clauses, and a comma alone does not provide adequate separation. Diagnosis: Comma Splice

5 My new exercise program has presented a logistical challenge, it requires that I run five yards every twenty minutes over the course of eleven hours. Vern thinks my plan to disprove Einstein’s the theory of relativity using a rocket-mounted flashlight is genius, Fred thinks I’m a crackpot. Lately I’ve been working non-stop on my new novel, a modern adaptation of Beowulf that will alter the landscape of fiction forever. I wanted to spend my summer vacation hiking the steppes of Russia, I spent it at the beanie baby convention in Tulsa instead. Herbert’s request for a raise was rejected, so he began to formulate a plan for generating extra income selling bait. Violet sold the recipe for the secret sauce on e-bay, breaking the hearts of her stunned co-workers. Harold isn’t your typical tacky night-club singer/magician, he’s a real class act. Because Mr. Bulstrode was particular about his suits, he only trusted his laundry to the finest dry cleaner and most expensive tailor in town. I have always regretted quitting my piano lessons, the only thing I can play is Chopsticks. I think my mother has come to terms with my decision to leave medical school, though she still drops hints whenever we drive by an ambulance. Phyllis’s Feedbag didn’t have the friendliest waiters or the cleanest silverware, it did serve the best bowl of chili Walter had ever tasted. Check the box if the sample sentence has a comma splice. Comma Splice – Two independent clauses are joined by a comma only. No Comma Splice – Post-comma stuff is not an independent clause. No Comma Splice – The independent clauses are connected with the coordinating conjunction “so.” No Comma Splice – Post-comma stuff not an independent clause. No Comma Splice – The subordinating conjunction “because” means that the pre-comma stuff is not an independent clause. No Comma Splice – The subordinating conjunction “though” means that the post-comma stuff is not an independent clause.


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