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Friday, April 15, 2011

Grammar Tip: Comma Splices

I first discovered the evil of comma splices this summer. While living in two different locations for six months, I did a lot of driving. I downloaded a bunch of podcasts for those drives, including several Grammar Girl podcasts. She dedicated an entire podcast to comma splices. It is VERY worth the eight or so minutes to listen to or to read. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/comma-splice.aspx

From my Editing Guide: (CS) Comma Splice
According to Diana Hacker in “A Writer’s Reference,” a comma splice is, “Two or more independent clauses joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction…[or] joining by a word that is not a coordinating conjunction.”
In my words: You can’t throw two random thoughts together, stick a comma in, and call it good. 

As Grammar Girl notes, some authors will use the tool stylistically, the same way you might use sentence fragments. (I can't say anything about that. I'm a blatant sentence fragmenter.) But I also agree with Grammar Girl that in most cases, it's better to not use a comma splice.

Here are some examples:

I ran to the edge of the lake, it looked so dark and scary. Wrong
I ran to the edge of the lake. It looked so dark and scary. Better Creating two shorter sentences actually adds to the punch of these sentences. 
OR I ran to the edge of the lake, and it looked so dark and scary. 

Commas have a place. There are lots of rule governing where they go. A good idea is to go to a site like Grammar Girl or the Blue Book of Grammar and check out the rules, that way you'll know when your using a comma incorrectly. 

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About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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