Here you're going to need to know something about clauses, since comma-splices and fused sentences deal with two clauses that are incorrectly punctuated. (Some people call them run-ons.) Look at the following:
- I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor I get in trouble.
- I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor, I get in trouble.
Neither of these is correct. The first runs two main clauses together without any kind of punctuation. This is a fused sentence. The second joins two main clauses together with only a comma. This is a comma-splice. Both will get your instructor's attention!
What's the problem? Each main clause expresses a complete thought. If you run two or more complete thoughts together without the right punctuation, they tend to blur. And the whole idea behind any kind of communication is to get your point across clearly, right? Anything that takes away from that should be avoided.
What's the solution? Don't do it! How you "Don't do it!" is really pretty easy, since there are four ways to get rid of comma-splices or fused sentences. Find the problem clauses and
I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor. I get in trouble.
I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor, and I get in trouble.
I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor; I get in trouble.
When I leave muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor, I get in trouble.
Which is best? They're all correct, so the choice is up to you. Just decide
which way sounds the best with the rest of the sentences around the problem.
That's all you need to know about comma-splices and fused sentences.
Need to review clauses? Click here.
Need to review punctuating subordinate clauses? Click here.
Not sure about coordinating conjunctions or the use of semicolons? Click here.
How about a "Self-Test" to see if you really understand.
© Scott Foll 2001. All rights reserved.