In today’s article we’ll focus on a very common mistake that not only English learners, but even native English speakers regularly make. That mistake is the comma splice.
A comma splice occurs when two separate, independent sentences are joined together using only a comma.
*I eat a lot of vegetables, I like to be healthy.
This can be fixed in one of three ways.
First, the sentences can be separated into two by ending the first sentence with a period.
I eat a lot of vegetables. I like to be healthy.
Another solution is to mark the end of the first sentence with a semi-colon.
I eat a lot of vegetables; I like to be healthy.
In the example above, the semicolon marks the end of the first sentence and signals the beginning of the second in a similar way to the period. The difference is that a period separates the sentences into two, while the semicolon joins the two sentences into one.
Lastly, we could make use of a conjunction. This works to not only mark the end of the first sentence, but it also signals the relationship between the two sentences. Recall our discussion on conjunctions in my last article.
I eat a lot of vegetables because I like to be healthy.
This option too joins the two sentences into one, but while the semicolon only joins the sentences without explicitly signaling their relationship, the use of a conjunction shows us how the sentences relate too.
Always make sure to avoid comma splices by using one of the strategies above. If you need to join two sentences together, the comma is not the tool for the job!