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The primary purpose of punctuation is to ensure the clarity and readability of writing. Punctuation clarifies sentence structure, separating some words and grouping others. It adds meaning to written words and guides the understanding of readers as they move through sentences. Often people advise that commas are used as a "pause" or a "breath" in a sentence, but that's not really all that helpful in providing technical rules or guidelines. And there are, in fact, some fairly technical rules and guidelines when it comes to using the comma usage.

“Sub” is a Latin prefix meaning “beneath.” A subordinate is an individual who is lower in rank than someone else. A subway is a transport system that’s underground. A submarine travels below the surface of the water. A subcompact is a car that is even smaller than a compact car. You get the idea.

One technique for fixing a comma splice is to take the simple step of exchanging the comma for a period or a semicolon or a colon. Each of these three punctuation marks is accepted by grammarians as strong enough to mediate between two sentences. But what messages are writers sending when they use one of these punctuation marks versus another?

In my last blog, I wrote about the comma splice and the three possible corrections writers can apply. But it’s worth taking the time to examine those solutions in more detail.

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