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Sentence Fragment

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

A fragment is a group of words that does not include a subject and/or a verb or does not complete a thought. Sentences that start with a subordinating conjunction must be completed with a finishing thought.

Now we're talking sentence fragments and I know there's many of you guys out there who have seen that written on a paper when you get it back, Sentence fragment. What a sentence fragment is, is a group of a words that does not include a subject and it might not include a verb. Or could have both of those, but it doesn't complete a thought.

Essentially it's a group of words that's not a complete sentence for a variety of reasons. Like; he threw. Now this is a fragment because, threw is one of those intransitive verbs that requires you to follow up with an object. So you're not completing a thought here. Or; because she was asleep. We've got a subject and a verb here, but because of this word 'because', we don't have a complete thought. These are examples of definitely common fragments that you've seen.

The good part about fragments is, you may have seen it a lot, but there's some pretty easy fixes. The first thing I want to draw your attention to, is the number one fragment error I see in writing. It's when you lead with the subordinating conjunction like since or because, and then you don't finish that thought. Any time you lead a sentence with one of those subordinating conjunctions, remember you've got to throw a comma after that clause, and hook it up to an independent clause. So that's that number one error.

Good news is, once you figure out that you've got a fragment, all you need to do is find what's missing and then add it. It's pretty simple. Let's try some. Over here we've got the sentence; vacation is. We've got a subject, we've got a verb, but we don't have a complete thought. This definitely is a fragment, but like I said, it's pretty easy to fix. We just said what is missing is a complete thought, so let's complete the thought; vacation is almost over. A depressing thought I know, but now it's complete and we've turned this into a complete sentence.

What about 'we decided to go again'? We've got a subject with 'we', we has decided so we've got that verb and then it completes the thought by telling us what they've decide to do, to go again. Here we've got a complete sentence.

What about; before we leave? Well we've got the conjunction 'before' so we've got what we're doing; we leave, but what's going on before we leave? So there's no complete thought here again. Let's just add it to fix this fragment. So before we leave let's check the door. We've completed that. Now we turn the fragment into a complete sentence by just identifying what was missing and then adding that in there.

Finally, and this may be a tricky one; and then we booked our tickets. I know we talked about conjunctions at the beginning of the sentence. But remember, if you start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, you don't have to hook it up to anything. Even though we've got a conjunction starting the sentence, because it's one of those FANBOYS, we're good to go. This is a complete sentence and doesn't need anything added to it.

There you have it, fragments are missing things, but the good news is, easy fix for them is figure out what they're missing, and add that in.