Let us now praise FANBOYS, the unsung heroes of grammar!

There is a grammar error that everyone encounters every day, it’s not a dangling modifier, a sentence that ends in a preposition, or a split infinitive.

Did you catch the common error in that sentence?

If you didn’t, let’s talk about comma splices.

A comma splice is an error that is created by joining two independent clauses (complete sentences) with a comma.

Since we have two complete sentences, we would form a comma splice if we combined them by using just a comma:

We see comma splices everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that people (1) don’t know that they’re wrong, and (2) don’t know how to correct them.

Here is the easiest way to correct a comma splice:

(Many of you might remember this post about the semicolon.)

The other way is to use the appropriate coordination conjunction, more affectionately known among teaching circles as “FANBOYS.”

By inserting the correct FANBOYS between the two complete sentences (independent clauses), we avoid making a comma splice. Choosing the appropriate coordinating conjunction is important; for instance, but and so do not have the same meaning and therefore cannot be used interchangeably.

Using the above example, we could simply do this:

As much as we love FANBOYS, we could also rewrite the sentence in a number of different ways to avoid making a comma splice:

  1. Because its characters are funny, I love Adventure Time.
  2. I love Adventure Time because its characters are funny.
  3. I love Adventure Time for its funny characters.

If you are a teacher, a high school student studying for the SAT or ACT, or a parent who has a child preparing for those exams, understanding comma splices is critical: there are numerous questions on that test this concept.

Here’s a typical question from the SAT:

In case you’re wondering, (B) is incorrect because “so” is illogical and Baldwin High School is an “it,” not a “they.” (D) is wrong because just as “so” was illogical in (B), so “as a result” is illogical: the first sentence did not cause the second sentence.

We’re almost done. Let’s read the very first sentence of this post again. Do you see the error now?

If you still don’t see it, read this post one more time.

If you do see it, tweet us with a proposed solution. To make it fun and simple, tweet us the FANBOYS word you’d use. We’ll be waiting to hear from you.