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Punctuation (Avoiding Comma Splicing) 01
'Chess takes ages to finish because it is very difficult' is a good use of English. Don't be tempted to write 'Chess takes ages to finish, it is very difficult' because this is known as comma splicing.

Punctuation (Avoiding Comma Splicing) 01

Do not use "comma splices" to link two sentences. Use a connective (conjunction) or a semi-colon, e.g. "The school is big and it has two halls", rather than "The school is big, it has two halls".

Comma splices happen when people try to combine two separate sentences into one, using a comma to join them together. But, as you know, commas are used to join subordinate/dependent clauses and phrases to sentences. In the example above, why would anyone try to join the two separate sentences: "The school is big" and "It has two halls"? One likely reason is that the second sentence is related to the first. But joining them together with a comma is not only incorrect punctuation, it also doesn't show what the relationship between the two ideas is. A variety of connectives supply different meanings:

The school is big, although it only has two halls.
The school was big, when it had two halls.
The school seemed big, because it had two halls.

Alternatively, by using a semi-colon, you imply that the second half of the sentence supports the first half ("The school is big; it has two halls" means that the school's size is obvious from the number of halls it has).

Whatever you do, don't just try to make a comma do work for which it is not designed!

Play this quiz to see how well you understand comma splicing.

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This quiz is VERY hard because sometimes just one letter is wrong. Make sure you look at every letter to see if it is a capital!

1.
Connect the following sentence.
This ball is suitable for basketball. It bounces well.
This ball is suitable for basketball, It bounces well.
This ball is suitable for basketball, it bounces well.
This ball is suitable for basketball; it bounces well.
This ball is suitable for basketball; It bounces well.
The first letter of the second sentence becomes lower case
2.
Connect the following sentence.
The tent is large. Four people can sleep in it.
The tent is large and four people can sleep in it.
The tent is large! Four people can sleep in it.
The tent is large, Four people can sleep in it.
The tent is large, four people can sleep in it.
You can connect two sentences with connectives such as "and", "but" and "or"
3.
Connect the following sentence.
The bag is blue. It has a pocket for my wallet.
The bag is blue and it has a pocket for my wallet.
The bag is blue because It has a pocket for my wallet.
The bag is blue, it has a pocket for my wallet.
The bag is blue, It has a pocket for my wallet.
Joining two sentences into one means that the second sentence should no longer begin with a capital letter
4.
Connect the following sentence.
The house is huge. It has three floors.
The house is huge and It has three floors.
The house is huge, It has three floors.
The house is huge; it has three floors.
The house is huge; It has three floors.
Trying to join the two sentences with a comma results in a comma splice!
5.
Connect the following sentence.
The game takes ages to finish. It is very difficult.
The game takes ages to finish because It is very difficult.
The game takes ages to finish because it is very difficult.
The game takes ages to finish, It is very difficult.
The game takes ages to finish, it is very difficult.
"It" must be written with a lower case i because it is no longer the beginning of a sentence
6.
Connect the following sentence.
The mirror is lovely. It is a special offer.
The mirror is lovely and It is a special offer.
The mirror is lovely, it is a special offer.
The mirror is lovely, It is a special offer.
The mirror is lovely; it is a special offer.
Remember that you can't join two sentences together with a comma!
7.
Connect the following sentence.
I can't use that printer. The ink has dried out.
I can't use that printer and The ink has dried out.
I can't use that printer because the ink has dried out.
I can't use that printer, The ink has dried out.
I can't use that printer, the ink has dried out.
"The ink has dried out" explains why "I can't use that printer", making "because" the most appropriate connective/conjunction to use
8.
Connect the following sentence.
I have lost my book. My name is on the front of it.
I have lost my book and My name is on the front of it.
I have lost my book, My name is on the front of it.
I have lost my book, my name is on the front of it.
I have lost my book; my name is on the front of it.
Use a semicolon to join simple sentences successfully
9.
Connect the following sentence.
Their garden is large. It even has a tennis court.
Their garden is large and It even has a tennis court.
Their garden is large, It even has a tennis court.
Their garden is large, it even has a tennis court.
Their garden is large; it even has a tennis court.
You could use "and" to join these sentences, but remember that "it" should not be capitalised in that case
10.
Connect the following sentence.
My brother is the eldest of us. He is twenty years old.
My brother is the eldest of us and He is twenty years old.
My brother is the eldest of us, he is twenty years old.
My brother is the eldest of us, He is twenty years old.
My brother is the eldest of us; he is twenty years old.
It would also be correct to use a colon here in place of the semicolon

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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