Comma splices

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Comma splices, or fused sentences

A comma splice refers to a sentence with clauses simply joined by a comma, without an appropriate conjunction or other transitional. Instead, a transitional should be used, or a semi-colon or period. Compare the following versions of a sentence; the first has a comma splice, resulting in what we called a fused sentence.

  1. Typically, graduate student receive good grades, their social lives rate as a C−.
  2. Typically, graduate student receive good grades, but their social lives rate as a C−.
  3. Typically, graduate student receive good grades; their social lives rate as a C−.
  4. Typically, graduate student receive good grades; however, their social lives rate as a C−.
  5. . Although graduate student typically receive good grades, their social lives rate as a C−.


Take a look at the following examples, and decide how you would repair them.

  1. A bird entered the house through the chimney, we had to catch it before the cat did.
  2. Some so-called health foods are not so healthy, many are made with oils that raise cholesterol levels.
  3. Normal people need eight hours of sleep per night, graduate students only need four.
  4. The dentistry profession will soon change, dentists will use lasers instead of drills.
  5. The woman entered her apartment and jumped with fright, someone was leaving through her bedroom window.
  6. When I was little, my brother tried to feed me flies, he told me they were raisins.
  7. The goose-down jacket was poorly manufactured, little feathers leaked out of the seams.
  8. A horse’s teeth never stop growing, they will eventually grow outside the horse’s mouth.
  9. Lobsters are cannibalistic, this is one reason they are hard to raise in captivity.
  10. The chain on this bicycle is defective, it chews up people’s pants, it leaves grease stains on people’s ankles as well.


Note to teachers: The above sentences are quite boring and lacking in context, and therefore, are pedagogically and linguistically problematic. Unfortunately, this is how many ESL/EFL textbooks and writing textbooks present exercises. Instead, more contextualized examples are needed, for example, sentences like those above that are located within short paragraphs, for students to find and correct.