Incorrect usage of commas is one of the biggest writing mistakes made by students, according to educator Summer Dittmer. The way we speak often differs from the way we write. Commas may be the biggest culprit of making a run on sentence seem like it could be written correctly. Are you using commas correctly? Watch the video to find out!
About the Writing No-No video series: Ms. Dittmer created a series of videos based on her experiences in helping students and adults learn how to improve their writing skills. These videos provide quick yet valuable lessons on what NOT to do when writing an academic paper.
Also watch the #2a Writing No-No: Punctuation - Difference between colons and semicolons, and the #1 Writing No-No: Never using 1st or 2nd person.
Watch the video (1:59):
In the 1st part of Writing No-No #2 I covered semicolons and colons. Today I’ll cover another big punctuation problem: comma splices. Many of my students have never heard of them, but they use them all the time! So what in the world are they?
A comma splice is basically a run-on. It occurs when two independent clauses are incorrectly connected by a comma. Here’s an example of a run-on:
The coffee shop was packed they were giving away free lattes.
Here’s and example of a comma splice:
The coffee shop was packed, they were giving away free lattes.
Which one is correct? Trick question! Neither of these examples is correctly written. Adding a comma still doesn’t help bring together the two separate thoughts in that sentence.
What is the correct punctuation for that example? Well, you can use a period, like this:
The coffee shop was packed. They were giving away free lattes.
A semicolon, like this:
The coffee shop was packed; they were giving away free lattes.
Or, you can use a PCS. No…not the computers…PCS stands for Periods, Coordinating Conjunctions or Semicolons. Remember these 7 coordinating conjunctions: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet and So
Here’s an example of how these conjunctions can correct a splice:
SPLICE: I had so much homework, I managed to get it done.
CORRECTED: I had so much homework, yet I managed to get it done.
OR: I had so much homework, but I managed to get it done.
Be careful though; when you use coordinating conjunctions, the meaning will change depending on which one you use.
Here is a HINT: When you need a comma splice cure, remember those 7 coordinating conjunctions in one of these ways: FANBOYS, FONYBAS or SOFYNOB
Thanks for listening, and good luck with your writing! Stay tuned for my next Writing No-No.