Sentence fragments are partial sentences that require additional information to be understood by the reader. Check to make sure your sentences contain a subject, a verb, and a stand-alone thought. If you find you’re prone to using sentence fragments, you can identify and correct them in your writing. This will make it easier for your audience read and comprehend your work.
EditCrafting Complete Sentences
- Start your sentence with a capital letter. Capitalize the first letter of your sentence. This will let your reader know a new thought is starting.
- Use both a subject and a verb. Craft your sentence so a subject—either a person, place, idea or thing—is performing an action or state of being, the verb. The sentence can include adjectives, adverbs, and other embellishments beyond the basics, but it must have these two essential elements.
- For example, men, women, animals, concepts, emotions, and areas of study could all be subjects.
- For example, jump, swim, hit, flip, come, and is are all verbs.
- Some basic subject-verb sentences are: He jumps. She swims. The dog flips. I am. Sadness is fleeting. Science is complex.
- Express a complete idea with your sentence. Provide any additional detail that’s needed for your sentence to make sense standing alone. A complete sentence does not rely on information outside the sentence to express a thought fully.
- For example, ”Art crosses” has both a subject and a verb, but it doesn’t make sense as a complete thought. A complete idea could be, “Art crosses socioeconomic boundaries.”
- Close your sentence with a period, exclamation point, or question mark. Use final punctuation to end your sentence. The type of punctuation you use will cue your reader about the intonation of the sentence. It also indicates that the thought the sentence expresses is complete.
EditIdentifying Sentence Fragments
- Look for a subject without a verb. Read your sentence aloud to see if you’ve included a verb. You are looking for a concrete action or state of being that the subject performs. If you’ve included only a subject, the sentence is a fragment.
- Examples of sentence fragments that include a subject but no verb might be: “The pretty girl.” “The audacious concept.” “Dirty newsprint.”
- A verb would help complete these sentences. For example: “The pretty girl dances.” “The audacious concept took me by surprise.” “Dirty newsprint stains the carpet.”
- Look for a verb without a subject. Scan your sentence for a subject. If there is an action or state of being without a person, place, concept, or thing executing it, your sentence is likely a fragment.
- Examples of sentence fragments that include a verb but no subject are: “Am completing the test.” “Jumps in the river.” “Biked to school.”
- A subject would help complete these sentences For example: “I am completing the test.” “She jumps in the river.” “The child biked to school.”
- Test whether the words stand alone as a complete thought. Ask yourself if you would need more information were someone to walk up to you and say these words. Would it add up or would you be waiting for them to provide more detail? A complete sentence will make sense on its own as a whole thought.
- For example, if someone just came up to you and said, “Which is very sharp.” You’d wonder what exactly was sharp. You could fix this by substituting a subject for the word which. For example, “The needle is very sharp.”
- Similarly, if someone said, “Because I can’t go.” You would wonder what the person was explaining. You could fix this by preceding the fragment with additional information to complete the thought. For example, “I’m sad because I can’t go.”
- Note that sentence fragments will often hide near complete, closely related sentences.
EditCorrecting Sentence Fragments
- Join the fragment to a related neighboring sentence. Look for a neighboring sentence that helps supply the information your fragment is missing. Often a fragment is created if you end a sentence before it is truly complete. Related sentences can help provide missing detail to finish a thought that doesn’t stand on its own.
- For example, consider the pair of sentences: “I need to go to the farm. Because I promised I’d pick up eggs.” The first sentence is complete because it has a subject, a verb, and expresses a complete thought. The second sentence is a fragment because it does not express a complete thought even though it has a subject and a verb.
- You can resolve the fragment by joining the two sentences into one complete sentence. “I need to go to the farm because I promised I’d pick up eggs.”
- Rephrase the fragment by adding the missing subject. Take note of any fragments that have subjects missing. Add or clarify the subject of your sentence so your idea can be understood completely on its own.
- Consider the fragment, “Which is weird, considering my fear of heights.”
- Adding a subject completes the sentence and creates a stand-alone thought. “My love for hiking is weird, considering my fear of heights”
- Rework the fragment by adding the missing verb. Identify sentence fragments that are missing a verb and add one to complete the thought. The verb can be a state of being—so simply existing, for example—or an action that your subject carries out.
- For example, consider the fragment “Scared dogs in their kennels.” Scared dogs in their kennels do what?
- Adding a verb makes it so that the dogs are acting or existing in their space. For example, “The scared dogs cowered in their kennels.”