Common Errors: Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences

Common Errors
In everyday practice, most writers make a limited number of errors in the basics, but repeat those errors often. Below is a list of frequently occurring errors and corrections with techniques to prevent them.

Writers produce run-on sentences with and without a comma, but the use of the comma as a splice is a bit harder to detect than unpunctuated run-ons such as: My van was overheating the muffler smoked. Three ways to correct this problem: 1) a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet); 2) a semicolon (or occasionally a colon) alone; or 3) a semicolon and a transitional phrase.

Example of comma splice: Employees may use the cafeteria, however, they must bus their own dishes.

Corrected: Use a semicolon or period instead of the first comma. Employees may use the cafeteria. They must bus their own dishes, however.


ProTip: This type of punctuation error may reflect faulty reasoning. The first sentence above implies a cause-and-effect relationship between the van’s overheating and the muffler’s smoking, which may or may not be the case.