Sentence Structure: Comma Splices and Sentence Fragments

Report
UWC Writing Workshop
Fall 2013
Let’s see what’s out there…

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWyrN22Zmuo
(courtesy of the Electric Company)
Sentence Structure?

 What do you know about sentence structure?
 What do you think of when you hear “sentence
structure?”
 Why do you think it is so important? Do you think it is
important?
 What do you hope to learn/take away form this
workshop today?
From the Beginning!

 What are independent and dependent clauses?
 Independent clause is a group of words with a subject
and verb that can stand alone as a complete sentence.
 Ex.) The crew could see the whale.
 Dependent clause is a group of words with a subject
and verb that cannot stand alone as a complete
sentence.
 Ex.) which had surfaced only 50m behind them.
 Put both examples together. Does it make sense? Do
they fit together nicely?
4 Types of Sentences

 To truly understand comma splices and sentence
fragments, you must first remember that there are a
few different types of sentences.
 Simple Sentence: contains one independent clause (a
defined subject and verb can be found)
 Ex.) I swept the floor.
 Compound Sentence: contains two or more
independent clauses; can be joined together by a
coordinating conjunction
 Ex.) I swept the floor, and he cleaned the table.
4 Types of Sentences
(cont’d)

 Complex Sentence: contains one independent clause plus
one or more dependent clause
 Ex.) When I finished playing the game, I swept the floor.
 Compound-Complex Sentence: contains two independent
clauses and one or more dependent clause
 Ex.) When I finished playing the game, I swept the floor,
and he cleaned the table.
 Remember: In order to use the following sentences
correctly in your writing, you must first understand how
they are constructed!!
Sentence Practice!

 Read each sentence carefully and identify what kind of
sentence it is.
1.
Robert moved in, and I moved in a month later.
•
2.
COMPOUND
Sarah found her cat in a tree.
•
3.
SIMPLE
As I drove the car, Carlos changed the radio station, and he
began to dance.
•
4.
COMPOUND-COMPLEX
Even if I leave early, I will still be late for work.
•
COMPLEX
Now that we understand
what a sentence is, we can
begin to look at problems that
may occur when writing one!

Let’s start with…
Comma Splices!
A Comma Splice is…

 When two independent clauses are connected with
only a comma
 A comma splice happens when you use a comma to
join two independent clauses. That’s a no-no in
grammar! Commas are used for separating, not
connecting.
How to Fix a Comma
Splice:

 Consider the following sentence:
 My family bakes together nearly every night, we then get to
enjoy everything we make together.
 Is this correct? Why or why not?
 NO! There are two independent clauses joined by a comma!
 How do we fix it?
 Correction #1: Break the sentence into two separate
sentences
 Correction #2: Add a coordinating conjunction and a
comma
 Correction #3: Add a subordinating conjunction with a
comma
Let’s Practice!

 The following sentences contain comma splices. For
each sentence, suggest two possible revisions.
1. I didn’t like the movie, it was way too long.
2. She and Jerry are getting married in the fall, they
didn’t want a summer wedding.
3. My favorite bands are all really loud, playing loud
music is good for stress relief.
Also, when considering
when to use a comma,
consult the
(comma)ndments!

Sentence Fragments…

 Fail to be a sentence because they cannot stand alone.
They also do not contain even one independent clause.
 Sometimes, fragments may be pieces of sentences that
have become disconnected from the main clause. These
can be fixed in several ways.
 Fragment: Purdue offers many majors in engineering.
Such as electrical, chemical, and industrial
engineering.
 Possible Revision: Purdue offers many majors in
engineering, such as electrical, chemical, and
industrial engineering.
Sentence Fragments
(cont’d)

 Also, remember that some fragments are not clearly
pieces of sentences that have been left unattached to the
main clause; they are written as main clauses but lack a
subject or main verb.
 No Main Verb: A story with deep thoughts and emotions.
 Possible Revision: She told a story with deep thoughts
and emotions.
 No Subject: When the ultimate effect of all advertising is to
sell the product.
 Possible Revision: The ultimate effect of all advertising is
to sell the product.
Let’s Practice!

 Read the following sentences and determine whether
they are complete sentences or fragments.
1. While I was driving to work and there was an
accident on the road.
2. Wherever I go, I take my cell phone with me.
3. As soon as I finish this grammar exercise, I will eat
lunch.
4. Whether I complete this course and get credit for it in
the fall.
5. So that I don’t spend too much time on any of my
projects, I make sure I take frequent breaks.
Questions?

Remember that the UWC is always here to help you!
 678-839-6513
 [email protected]
 TLC 1201 (First floor, past the snacks)
 www.westga.edu/writing
 Like us on Facebook: University Writing Center
(UWG)

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