Writing wrongs #9: it’s not nice to splice

There are some things that we all do even though we know we shouldn’t: eat the whole packet of chocolate digestives, phone in sick to work when we’re completely fine but just want to catch up on RuPaul’s Drag Race, use plastic straws …

But what if you didn’t know you were doing anything wrong? Ah, blissful ignorance. In this world there are two types of people: those who know about comma splices and those who don’t. Once you know they exist, you’ll see them everywhere. And, trust me, they will haunt you.

Splice: a common comma error (and a 2009 thriller starring Adrien Brody)

A comma splice is when a comma divides two main clauses:

The weather is great, we’re going swimming.
I love cookie dough, it’s my favourite ice cream flavour.

It might shock you to discover that these are WRONG. The two clauses are independent from each other, and the punctuation needs to reflect that. But don’t panic! There are a couple of quick editing fixes you can deploy to solve this dastardly dilemma.

  • Add a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so):
    The weather is great, so we’re going swimming.
  • Replace the comma with a semicolon:
    I love cookie dough; it’s my favourite ice cream flavour.
  • Turn one wrong sentence into two right ones with a full stop:
    The weather is great. We’re going swimming.

If you’d rather be creating, marketing, selling or counting cash than questioning commas, then please get in touch. I’ll sort your splices out for you so you can get on with what you do best.