Why Are They So Confusing to Read?

* So why are comma splices so confusing? Well I'll show you. Try reading this sentence:

I went to the store today, I bought apples and oranges, which looked ripe and very juicy, when i tried to eat some earlier that day at my house, they were old and had gone rotten, I hate rotten foods, they make my stomach ache, sometimes, I have to take medicine to make it go away.

* This sentence is full of comma splices because it is one huge run-on sentence. What was your reaction to reading this? Did it make the writing sound very rushed? Did it lose your attention? Did you try to remember it all, and then did you get frustrated and quit? This is the usual reaction to writing with comma splices and run-ons. The reader looks for the end of a sentence for a natural rest, but doesn't get it. This is very annoying to the reader. The sentences don't read very smoothly, and it seems like too much information is given. This leaves a reader very confused.

* Comma splices in run-ons can even mess up the true meaning of the sentences. One part of the paragraph above can be meant to read like this:

"they make my stomach hurt sometimes."

OR it could be meant to read like this:

"sometimes I have to take medicine to make it go away."

If the sentence were punctuated correctly, and without any comma splices, you would know exactly how the reader wants you to read it.


- In order to stay away from run-ons and comma splices, think about it this way. For most readers, it is less confusing to read sentences with only two statements or complete ideas in it. These are often known as compound sentences. When there are more than two statements given, the sentence gets more confusing. So a nice sentence should have no more than two statements in it.

- If you're not sure if you've written a lot of comma splices and run-ons in your paper, read it aloud to yourself. If some sentences just seem to go on and on and you start struggling for breath, you've probably just found a run-on sentence in your own work. Reading aloud to yourself is a good way to catch any other problems, too. Often times, your ears can catch mistakes that your eyes just cannot catch.

* * Now that you know what comma splices are and why they're so bad to have in your writing, continue on to find out ways to fix and avoid them.

Ways to Fix a Comma Splice

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T.Wills: trawills@nmu.edu