Eewww, gross! A comma splice!

A discussion in which several friends are taking part over on Facebook inspired me to revive and repost this seven-year-old rumination on comma splices and more. It’s from my now-mothballed “dr. shill” blog (Oct. 22, 2010).


The comma splice is among the most loathsome of errors. It should be wiped off the face of the earth with extreme prejudice. No, I’m not kidding.

They say post-apocalyptic cockroaches will inherit the earth. Sometimes I think comma splices will give them a run for their money.

On a beautiful fall day recently, my colleague Dr. Rhonda Sprague came to observe my teaching. From our third-floor lab, one could still see a good deal of flaming red and yellow foliage along Briggs Street as it ran to a dead end just outside our class.

As I reviewed the concepts behind identifying and avoiding comma splices, I mentioned to my students that comma splices increasingly creep into newspaper writing, especially at smaller newspapers and in quoted material.  Dr. Sprague startled me by raising her hand and asking whether they’re acceptable in novels, as she has noticed many during her own reading.

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