English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is this a comma splice? What makes a sentence a comma splice?

Being left at the altar on her wedding day, Pamela became furious.

share|improve this question
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There was just a post today on Language Log about constructions like this, known as absolutives. In it, Mark Liberman quotes from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language:

pages 1265-6 of CGEL, where the followed two examples are given:

His hands gripping the door, he let out a volley of curses.
This done, she walked off without another word.

... The [italicized] non-finites are supplements with the main clause as anchor. [The examples shown] contain a subject, and belong to what is known as the absolute construction, one which is subordinate in form but with no syntactic link to the main clause. […]

In [none of these examples] is there any explicit indication of the semantic relation between the supplement and the anchor. This has to be inferred from the content of the clauses and/or the context.

A comma splice, on the other hand, is when two sentences are connected with a comma instead of a period.

share|improve this answer

I would say no, because "Being left at the altar on her wedding day" isn't an independent clause.

It would be considered a comma splice if you phrased it this way:

Pamela was left at the altar on her wedding day, she was furious.

share|improve this answer

Being left at the altar on her wedding day, Pamela became furious.

The sentence above starts with a participial phrase; in that case, it's correct to use the comma (which is the only way to separate phrases, in cases such as these).

A comma splice would occur in a sentence like the following.

The Taylors won a new swimming pool, however, no one in the family knew how to swim.

The correct punctuation has a semicolon.

The Taylors won a new swimming pool; however, no one in the family knew how to swim.

share|improve this answer
Replace the "however," with "but" and you can keep the comma. – Marthaª Nov 5 '10 at 15:43
@Martha - in that case you'd need to lose the second comma; "x, but, y" is horrifying. And incorrect. – MT_Head Jun 5 '11 at 22:31
I feel like the correct sentence would also include the word swim and not the non-word swin. ;) – Ian MacDonald Mar 3 '15 at 22:27

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.