The Remedy of the Week: Comma splices

Each week proofreader Hannah Jones discusses and offers a remedy to common problems we encounter when writing. Today she explains what comma splices are and how to avoid creating them.

What is a comma splice?

A comma splice (sometimes referred to as a run-on sentence) occurs when a comma is incorrectly used to link two independent clauses.

Unsure of what exactly constitutes an independent clause? Let's have a quick recap. An independent clause is one which can stand by itself as a sentence and expresses a complete thought.

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The Remedy of the Week: Semicolons

The semicolon is a punctuation mark that many people feel unsure when to use. Friends tell me that they just stick one in when they feel like it, to make their writing look more interesting or more professional.

Many of us were so encouraged to employ semicolons during exams, to demonstrate our full range of punctuation prowess, that we still feel the need to liberally sprinkle them into our writing, without being entirely certain that we're using them correctly. 

So when should a semicolon be used? Are they even necessary in these times where punctuation is being used more and more sparingly?

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