The Comma Splice• We have already covered the basics of this punctuation mark on the article Introducing the Comma. Basically, commas are used after introductory elements on sentences (e.g., introductory words, phrases,clauses). Commas are also used to separate dependent clauses, like this:• As it was raining, we decided to stay home.
• The comma can also be used to separate independent clauses, but the clauses must be joined by a conjunction. If the conjunction is missing, we have what is called the comma splice. Here is an example:• They have a course of economics here, the students like it.• This construction is considered to be grammatically incorrect. There are several methods to fix a comma splice. First of all you can use a period instead of the comma:• They have a course of economics here. The students like it.• Secondly, you can add a co-ordinating conjunction to the second clause:• They have a course of economics here, and the students like it.
• The other methods for fixing the comma splice are less intuitive. You can substitute the comma with a semicolon (keep in mind that the semicolon binds two clauses more closely than the period) or you can use a subordinating conjunction that will make the two causes dependent.• They have a course of economics here because the students like it.
A Run-on Sentence• A run-on sentence is a common writing error. When two or more sentences are combined incorrectly in one sentence, the result is a run-on sentence.• Example• Sentence #1: The student wants to pass his test. Sentence #2: He studies every night. Run-on: The student wants to pass his test he studies every night.
• Explanation• A run-on is caused by:• incorrect punctuation.• incorrect use of linking words.• absence of linking words.• You can recognize a run-on error by looking at the sentence and answering the following questions:• Is there more than one subject? If yes, then:• Is there more than one verb? If yes, then:• Is there more than one independent clause? If yes, then:• Are the clauses joined by a comma and a linking word OR by a semicolon? If no, then:• The sentence is a run-on.
• You can correct run-on errors by:• separating the ideas into two or more sentences, OR• using a comma and a linking word, OR• using a semi-colon (;), OR• using a linking word with a semi-colon and a comma.
Non-parallel Sentence Errors• In fiction writing, a parallel sentence means there is a balance of sentence structure. That means that similar words, phrases, or clauses should be the same in a list within a sentence and the way to join parallel structures is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such as "and" or "or." It probably sounds more complicated than it actually is. The balance is lost when a mixture of gerunds (words with ‘ing’) and verb forms are put together. Take these examples: He liked to run, to keep fit, and swimming. He liked swimming and to keep fit.
• The sentence has the verb form (to run) combined with a gerund (swimming) and causes an unbalanced sentence structure. The second sentence has the gerund first in the list, followed by the gerund. To maintain the balance, both sentences could be written as follows: He liked to run, to keep fit, and to swim. He liked to swim and to keep fit.
• John entered the house and couldn’t get the lights to work. He edged his way into the hallway, feeling his way along the wall for the light switch. This sentence is unbalanced because it has a gerund (feeling) placed incorrectly. This is the most common sentence structure error among new writers. It should be like this: John entered the house and couldn’t get the lights to work. He edged his way into the hallway and felt his way along the wall for the light switch.
Sentence Frangments Errors• A sentence fragment is a group of words masquerading as a complete sentence. Sentence fragments, as incomplete sentences, can confuse your reader or make your meaning unclear. For example, the following passage contains two sentence fragments: I learned about sentence structure.• The common mistakes.• The best ways to correct them.• (Complete sentence)• (Fragment)• (Fragment)•
• Is there an easy way to test for sentence completeness?• Indeed, there is an easy way to test for sentence completeness. Ask the following questions of every sentence in your writing:Is there a verb (action word)?• Is there a subject?• If the phrase starts with a subordinating word (like "because" or "since"), does it also include an independent clause to complete the thought?• If you answered "no" to any of these questions, youve got yourself a sentence fragment. Fortunately, sentence fragments are easily remedied.
• How can I fix my fragments?• There are two main ways to repair sentence fragments.
• Expand the fragments into sentences, supplying the missing elements like subjects, verbs, and clauses. Incorrect: Confusing and distracting to readers. Correct: Sentence fragments are confusing and distracting to readers. Incorrect: Because they are confusing and distracting to readers. Correct: Because they are confusing and distracting to readers, writers should generally avoid sentence fragments.•
• Incorporate the fragment into a nearby sentence. Incorrect: The dog was waiting in the window when his owner got home. Then, excited, wagging his tail. He went to greet her at the door.• Correct: The dog was waiting in the window when his owner got home. Excited, he wagged his tail and went to greet her at the door.