Sentence Fragments

Sentences that do not express a complete thought or do not have a subject and a verb are incomplete. These are referred to as sentence fragments. There are four main ways sentence fragments occur: sentences without a subject, sentences with added detail, sentences beginning with a dependent clause, and sentences starting with a verb. These fragments can be avoided by checking to make sure that each sentence has a clear subject and predicate.

1. Sentences without a subject

Every sentence must have its own subject and verb. However, sometimes writers assume that the subject in a previous sentence will carry over into the next sentence. To correct sentence fragments that have no subject, connect it to the previous sentence or add a subject.

Example:

Incorrect: I walked to campus to hand in my essay. And put it in the drop box.

Correct: I walked to campus to hand in my essay and put it in the drop box.

Correct: I walked to campus to hand in my essay. I put it in the drop box.

2. Sentences with added detail

Detail cannot stand on its own as a sentence since it lacks a subject and a verb. To correct sentence fragments that consist of added detail, connect it to the previous sentence that is being elaborated on or add a subject and a verb.

Example:

Incorrect: I have been to five countries in Europe. Including England, France, and Switzerland.

Correct: I have been to five countries in Europe including England, France, and Switzerland.

Correct: I have been to five countries in Europe. These countries include England, France, and Switzerland.

3. Sentences beginning with a dependent clause

Dependent clauses do not form complete thoughts, and therefore, they are sentence fragments. Connect the dependent clause to an independent clause to create a complete sentence.

Example:

Incorrect: Until class starts. I am going to sip on my coffee.

Correct: I am going to sip on my coffee until class starts.

4. Sentences starting with a verb

Sentences which start with a verb and are not commands are fragments. A subject or an implied subject must be present within the sentence to correct these fragments.

Example:

Incorrect: I was at the grocery store yesterday. Trying to find fresh carrots in the produce section.
Correct: I was at the grocery store yesterday trying to find fresh carrots in the produce section.