Commas. We need them, but very few people know how to use them correctly. I subscribe to the saltshaker theory, that many writers keep their commas on their desk in a jar and gently shake them over their completed work, allowing the punctuation to fall where it may. There can be few other explanations for the randomness with which this most essential tool is deployed. We cannot address the entire range of linguistic comma trauma in one short editorial, so let's pick one misuse: the comma splice.
The English verb "to splice" sounds like it should mean to split or to dismember. It has a bit of a violent sound, sort of a mixture of "to dice" and "to split." However, "to splice" means "to join together." The comma is not strong enough to hold independent ideas in the same sentence. For that, you need the really tough guys in the English grammar commonwealth: the period (full stop for our UK friends), the colon, and the semi-colon.
A comma splice occurs when a writer uses our subtle friend to connect (without a conjunction) two independent clauses that really belong in two sentences. An independent clause is a noun and verb combination that has all the grammar Mojo it needs to be a sentence. A sentence that attempts to keep two independent clauses together with only a comma is doomed. Hey, these clauses are independent. They'll get up and walk away. A writer asks too much of his or her punctuation by using only a wee, poor comma to hold them together.
Consider an example with a plural subject: "Cansu and Mehmet went swimming." Contrast this with an example of a sentence with too many subjects: "Cansu and Mehmet went swimming, the water was cold." Question: does the phrase "the water was cold" have all it needs to be a sentence? Yes, it hasĀ  legs to stand independently.
There are a bunch of (really only four and a half) ways to solve this problem: use tougher punctuation; put each independent clause in its own sentence; use a coordinating conjunction to connect two equal clauses; or convert the second independent clause into a dependent clause with a subordinating conjunction (for now, please ignore all of the semi-colons in this sentence). Here are your options:
Cansu and Mehmet went swimming; the water was cold.
Cansu and Mehmet went swimming. The water was cold.
Cansu and Mehmet went swimming, and the water was cold.
Cansu and Mehmet went swimming even though the water was cold.
Hey, where did our comma go? A dependent clause following an independent clause doesn't need a comma anymore. And, when you create a dependent clause, you can move it about to make your writing more graceful and less formulaic. Try this:
Even though the water was cold, Cansu and Mehmet went swimming.
A dependent clause before an independent clause needs that comma back. This sentence makes the most sense, paints a more complete picture of the event, and gives some life to the story that you are going to tell. This sentence inspires the reader to ask for more information and the writer to provide it: Why, pray tell, did Cansu and Mehmet swim in cold water?
Note: We welcome your input on our tongue-in-cheek editorial. Please, do remember, however, that we are having fun with grammar. Everyone needs an editor.