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Get Your Grammar Fix(ed): Don't Play Nice with a Comma Splice

'Ello, loves. 

Today's topic is the dreaded comma splice. I see these over and over again. And I want to tell writers, "You're better than that. You deserve more." 

Frankly, so do commas.

Don't fraternize with the CS. They're mean to commas. They put them in all sorts of awkward situations.

It's time to stand up to these bullies and make your mamas proud.
Look at him. Help a brother out.

There are infinite possibilities when it comes to combining thoughts. Here's the general rule: If you want to combine two independent clauses into one sentence while keeping them independent, there's simply got to be a comma. 

I almost said, "No ifs, ands, or buts." 

But that's wrong here for two reasons: 

1) It's cliche. And we always want to avoid being cliche. 

2) Ifs, ands, ors, & buts are welcome when you're slapping sentences together.

Since I'm abroad in the Czech Republic this week, I thought I'd make my sample sentences about Prague.

The Czech Republic is rich with history.
Prague is lovely in the fall.

Now, to combine those bebes, I've got several options. Watch closely. Notice that if either independent clause ceases to be an independent clause (meaning it will NOT have both a subject and a predicate), there will not be a comma.

The Czech Republic is rich with history, and Prague is lovely in the fall.

Prague and Brno are lovely in the fall.

Prague is rich with history and lovely in the fall.

Notice that I've used "and" in all three sentences. That conjunction (like all the FANBOYS) does not need a comma before it unless it's combining independent clauses or it precedes the last item in a list. 

NOTE: This applies to fiction, based on the Chicago Manual of Style. Any work that must follow the AP style guide--non-fiction books and articles--should not use the serial comma. Indie writers are free to make their own choice as long as they are consistent.

Prague, Krakow, and Vilnius are all lovely in the fall. 

But the comma splice is the bane of my existence. 

(Okay. Maybe that's a wee bit harsh.) But they're no good.

When someone wants to combine two fully-loaded independent clauses without compromise, but they forget their FANBOY, they create a comma splice. 

The Czech Republic is rich with history, Prague is lovely in the fall.

Aaaaaaaagh! No. Just. No.

For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So...FANBOYS are your friends. It's time to cut the comma splice loose.

Sad comma will thank you for it.


Besides, there are other, better, and more attractive fish in the Vltava River.




  1. I have serious comma issues! Like, seriously. Thanks for the reminder. I'll forget it by tomorrow, but at least I can come back and refresh my memory :)

  2. Glad to give you a resource, Julie. They're tough little buggers to get to know. But if you treat them nicely, they've got your back.


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