New Dog for Me, Comma Splice Blues for You
Aack, Dun Writin’ readers! This article is due to go live in ten hours and I’m just writing it now. Why have I procrastinated so badly? Well, it’s not entirely my fault. My newly adopted dog, Sophie, needs a lot more maintenance than my previous dog, Rocky, who was very elderly and slept 90% of the time. Sophie’s not a puppy, but you’d never know it. So I’m having a hard time getting things done in between games of fetch and frequent walks…
Similarly, many writers have a hard time keeping grammar rules in their heads and/or implementing them correctly when they’re actively writing. Just like I can’t play fetch and edit (or write!) at the same time, you may find it hard to plot and write and keep everything grammatically correct at the same time. So here comes another tip for those self-editing sessions:
Eliminating comma splices.
A comma splice can be difficult to detect because when we talk, we tend to speak in long, run-on sentences without a full stop between ideas, fragments, phrases, or complete sentences. They sneak into writing without detection easily that way, but they’re almost always incorrect unless you’re deliberately using a literary style of writing called “asyndeton” that eliminates conjunctions on purpose and inserts commas instead. This page explains that type of usage (http://literarydevices.net/asyndeton/) and displays the example of “This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely…….” that was used in Rhetoric by Aristotle.
Some examples of a comma splice are:
My dog needs frequent attention, I didn’t have time to write this article.
When I go to the store, I need to get apples, do you want to come, too?
The sun is really strong today, I need to buy more sunblock.
The next article has a lot of difficult information in it, I should start writing it immediately.
As you can see, these sentences make perfect sense when you say them out loud in conversation, but they’re not grammatically correct. In replacing the comma splice, they either need a period/full stop, a semicolon, or a conjunction (and, but, so, etc.).
My dog needs frequent attention so I didn’t have time to write this article. OR My dog needs frequent attention. I didn’t have time to write this article.
When I go to the store, I need to get apples. Do you want to come, too?
The sun is really strong today and I need to buy more sunblock.
The next article has a lot of difficult information in it; therefore, I should start writing it immediately.
Now I have to run and get some editing done before Sophie wakes up. Hopefully no one shows up at my doorstep, or the phone doesn’t ring, or a random noise occurs in another part of the house (she has excellent hearing)…
We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!
Owner, Adirondack Editing