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I have a question regarding comma splices. I'm trying to learn more about comma splices and how to remove them from some work I am doing. I understand the basics regarding them but I have a question regarding a possibly more complex example.

It is hard to describe the situation so perhaps an example (based on the plight of the poor Razzies :P) will do:

It had been a thousand years since the Razzies had known the horrors of the king's might, a thousand years since he had sailed across the ocean with his vast armies and claimed their lands for himself.

In this situation would it be better to use a semi-colon instead of the comma? I am struggling because I am not entirely positive that they are two independent clauses. If I separate them with a period they do not seem to make as much sense.

Apologies if this is a silly question. I am just trying to make sure I learn the rules as best as I can. Thanks!

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That's not a comma splice; that's a statement followed by an elaboration.1 The second does not stand alone, so a semicolon there would be incorrect.

This would be a comma splice:

It had been a thousand years since the Razzies had known the horrors of the king's might, it was a thousand years since he had sailed across the ocean with his vast armies and claimed their lands for himself.

In that case, if you were determined to keep all that in one sentence (which I probably wouldn't do because it's getting long), then a semicolon would be the correct way to join two clauses that can each stand alone.

1 Notice my use of the semicolon in that sentence. A comma there would be a comma splice, too.

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  • Well, that certainly clarified it for me! Thank you. Sorry for the second question but I just want to make sure I have this pretty well understood. Say in the sentence: "The sword was worth fifty times its weight in gold; it was only a matter of time before the boy reneged on his promises and betrayed him." Originally I had a similar sentence with a comma instead of a semicolon but I'm thinking that the semicolon is correct in this instance. – Sean Jan 12 '15 at 15:44
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    @Sean the semicolon is correct in that case. If each of the clauses is a complete sentence -- if you could remove either one and still have a sentence -- then you use the semicolon. If doing that would leave a fragment, like in the passage in your question, use the comma. – Monica Cellio Jan 12 '15 at 16:19
  • I'll ignore the rules on comments just to say thanks a million Monica. I really appreciate the help and you've explained it all very clearly. – Sean Jan 12 '15 at 17:41

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