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

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

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3 Answers

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.

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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.

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

The sentence is an example of a sentence starting with a participial phrase; in that case, it's correct to use the comma (which is the only way to separate the phrases, in that case).

A comma splice would occur in a sentence like

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

The correct sentence is

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

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Replace the "however," with "but" and you can keep the comma. –  Marthaª Nov 5 '10 at 15:43
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@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
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