Paula looks at comma splices.
Recently, I’ve read a couple of books with dozens (if not hundreds!) of what I call ‘run-on sentences’, which are also referred to as ‘comma splices’. Basically, this is when two independent sentences are ‘connected’ with a comma.
For example: Paula loves Ireland, she has been there many times.
I hope that, like me, you are cringing, because all my instincts say this is incorrect – and this is confirmed by every grammar guide.
Independent sentences like this should not have a comma between them. They should have either a full stop (period), or a conjunction, or even a semi-colon. NOT a comma!
One source I checked suggested that comma splices were a common error made by ‘inexperienced writers’. However, the novels I read were not written by newbie writers who hadn’t had their work checked by an editor before self-publishing. Both had independent publishers – and therefore, one assumes, competent editors. But both novels contained not just single comma splices. Often they had three or more independent clauses with only commas between them e.g.
Charlie gazed in admiration at Jane, he was looking forward to dinner with her, they had not been out together for weeks, who knew when they would again.
I’ve adapted this rather than quoted it directly – but it’s an example of what occurs frequently in both novels. And, apart from the comma splices, shouldn’t the final ‘independent sentence’ have a question mark at the end anyway?
This leads me to wonder
(a) whether the authors are totally ignorant of basic grammar rules.
(b) whether these novels have actually received any editing (despite one of them being with a fairly high profile publisher)
(c) perhaps more worrying in my opinion, whether today’s editors are ignoring a fundamental grammar error.
What do you think?
P.S. I’m happy to report that most novels I have read recently do not contain this error!