If you’re not sure what a comma splice is, here’s a very common example:
The procedure should be clear, however many in our department do not yet grasp it.
For some reason, the word “however” seems to lend itself to comma slices perhaps more than any other word. Here’s how the above sentence should be written:
The procedure should be clear; however, many in our department do not yet grasp it.
Alternatively, you could divide this into two sentences:
The procedure should be clear. However, many in our department do not yet grasp it.
The rule to remember is actually pretty simple. If two complete sentences are joined by a comma, it’s a comma splice error. As shown above, the original sentence can easily be divided into two separate sentences. Therefore, it cannot be separated with a comma, but must be either separated by using a semicolon or starting a new sentence.
Let’s look at another example:
The new parts have arrived, the ones we’ve been waiting on.
This could be a typical company memo. Does it contain a comma splice error? No, because the latter part of the sentence, “the ones we’ve been waiting on” cannot stand as a complete sentence.
Word processing programs are pretty good about catching comma splices. However, they cannot be relied upon to tell you whether it’s better to start a new sentence or to use a semicolon. A general rule of thumb is that if the sentence is lengthy, it’s usually clearer to just start a new sentence.
Of course no one can remember every rule. Even professional writers have to look things up sometimes. For the average person composing business correspondence, it can be a challenge to follow every rule of grammar precisely.
A cost-effective, time-saving solution is to consider a professional editing company such as Proof-reading.com. For now, just remember—two sentences joined together by a comma is a comma splice error. This error is avoided by using a semicolon or starting a new sentence.