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 Sentence Fragments

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PostSubject: Sentence Fragments   Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:16 pm


Sentence Fragments






The Complete Sentence vs. The Sentence Fragment

A sentence fragment is part of a sentence set off by a capital letter and final punctuation.
Ex. The circus clowns under the big top.


A complete sentence or main clause contains a subject and a verb and is not a subordinating clause, a clause beginning with a word such as "because" or "who." Check out our page on subordinating conjunctions.
Ex. The circus clowns work under the big top.
clowns = subject
work = verb


A sentence fragment:
lacks a verb
The colorfully adorned circus clown.
or lacks a subject
Tumbled across the entire length of the arena.
or is a subordinate clause, or dependent clause, not attached to a complete sentence
Into the lap of a ferocious, hungry lion.


Placed together, these fragments form a complete sentence!
The colorfully adorned circus clown tumbled across the entire length of the arena and into the lap of a ferocious, hungry lion.


This sentence has:
a subject
clown
a verb
tumbled
a coordinating conjunction
and


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An Explanation of Fragments

Why do we write sentence fragments?

We write sentence fragments because we often speak in sentence fragments!
When we answer a question
Example:
Q. "What are you doing?"
A. "Eating."
Q. "When are you going home?"
A. "At five o'clock."
When we give a command
Example:
Remember running through the halls in elementary school?
Your teacher yelled "No running!"
She or he spoke in a sentence fragment!


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Identifying and Revising Sentence Fragments

To help you edit your paper, use the following check list:
Find the verb.
Find the subject.
Make sure the sentence is not a subordinate clause.


1) Find the verb:
Look for the verb in your sentence.
If you do not have one, then your sentence is actually a sentence fragment.
Fragment: Students in purple boots and green mittens.
Ask yourself, "Where's the verb? Can I circle it?"
Revised: Students in purple boots and green mittens walk through a terrible storm.
The verb in the sentence is "walk."


2) Find the subject:
Once you've located the verb, look for the subject in your sentence.
If you do not have a subject, then your sentence is actually a sentence fragment.






Fragment: Ran across the street and up a tall, newly blooming tree.
Ask yourself, "Who or what performs the action?"
Revised: The kitten ran across the street and up a tall, newly blooming tree.
The subject of this sentence is "kitten."
Remember: There is a type of sentence where "you" is understood to be the subject:
(You) Pick up the dirty laundry off the floor.


In all other cases, a subject is necessary for a sentence to be complete.

3) Make sure the clause is not subordinate.
A subordinate clause is a clause (with a subject and a verb) introduced by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.
See our subordinating conjunction page for a list of subordinating conjunctions.
See our relative pronoun page for a list of relative pronouns.
A subordinate clause is a sentence fragment.
Subordinate clauses should not be used as complete sentences.
Subordinate clauses should be joined with complete sentences.
Fragment: When the girl ran across the street
The subordinating conjunction (when) leads us to ask, "What happened when the girl ran across the street?"


Revised: When the girl ran across the street, she was nearly struck by a car.

Fragment: The girl who ate all the cake.
In this case, the relative pronoun (who) leads us to ask, "What happened to the girl who ate all the cake?"


Revised: The girl who ate all the cake has icing on her chin.


NOTE: Questions beginning with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun are complete sentences.

Here are some examples of questions, or interrogative sentences, which begin with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun:
Who is coming to our party?
Which games should we play first?
When will the clowns arrive?
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