Here is is the sentence I used to demonstrate comma splice errors and how to correct them.  But this time I have omitted the commas, turning this run-on sentence into a fused sentence rather than a comma splice:

Fused Sentence:
    I got up late this morning I didn't have time for breakfast.


    I got up late this morning. I didn't have time for breakfast.


    I got up late this morning; I didn't have time for breakfast.


    I got up late this morning, so I didn't have time for breakfast.


    I got up late this morning, and I didn't have time for breakfast.


A DIFFERENT STRATEGY: If you choose to turn one of the clauses into a subordinate (dependent) clause, then you can use just a comma between the two clauses:

    Because I got up late this morning, I didn't have time for breakfast.

* An independent clause is one that can stand alone as a sentence.  Usually, you will spot juxtaposed independent clauses if you read your essay out loud, because you will hear the stop between the two sentences.  Of course, even when they hear that stop, some people will try to punctuate it with a comma, in which case they end up with a comma splice error.  To learn how to correct a comma splice, click here.

How to Correct a Fused Sentence

by Tina Blue
February 15, 2002

The fused sentence is a type of run-on sentence.  It is nearly the same error as the comma splice, but without the comma.

As I explain in "What Is a Comma Splice, and How Do I Fix It?" there are only two things you can do when two independent clauses* are right next to each other:  you can join them, or you can separate them.

Now, that sounds self-evident, but the trick is that there are only a few permissible ways to join independent clauses, and even fewer ways to separate them.


You must use a coordinator to join two independent clauses.  There are two types of coordinators--coordinating conjunctions and correlatives


either . . . or
neither . . . nor
not only . . but also

Coordinating Conjunctions:


Correlatives don't pose a problem, since comma splices and fused sentences don't develop out of a misuse of correlatives. To correct a fused sentence by joining the two independent clauses properly, you will need a coordinating conjunction, and most of the time, that coordinating conjunction will be preceded by a comma.

The example I gave in my article on comma splices works just as well as an example of a fused sentence, since the only difference between comma splices and fused sentences is that even the comma is omitted in a fused sentence. 


To separate independent clauses, you must use end-stop punctuation.  There are only four types of end-stop punctuation:

     .   (period)
     ?   (question mark)
      !   (exclamation point)
      ;   (semicolon)

That's it.  No other form of punctuation can do the heavy work of separating independent clauses, so unless you have a coordinating conjunction there, you must separate those independent clauses with end-stop punctuation.
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