Every complete sentence must have, at a minimum, a subject and an object. The sentence must also express a complete thought. If a sentence is lacking one of these three essential components, it is a sentence fragment. Below are several examples of common sentence fragments, along with possible corrections.
Every sentence must have at least 3 components to be considered a complete sentence:
Sentences can also have:
A sentence fragment is a sentence that:
Does not express a complete thought -
Example: Joe is. This sentence is lacking a complete thought- Joe is "something" but we don't know what Joe is.
Is lacking a subject
Example: Eating chicken.This sentence is lacking a subject-who or what is eating chicken?
Is lacking an action
Example: A book without a cover.What about a book without a cover? Is the book doing something? Is someone doing something to the book? We don't know, because there is no subject
Is a dependent clause, standing alone
Example: And I went to the store.The conjunction "and" makes this clause dependent. A dependent clause can't stand alone, it needs to be attached to an independent clause
The appropriate correction for sentence fragments depends on what is lacking. The sentence can be corrected by adding in a subject, or verb, joining the dependent clause with an independent clause, or completing the thought.
For example, each of the sentence fragments listed above can be corrected:
Here are some additional examples of sentence fragments, with corrections.
This is a sentence fragment because it is a dependent clause. "Since" is a subordinating conjunction, and this sentence can't stand alone. We could correct this sentence by removing the word "since," so the sentence would simply read
I like fishing.
I am the subject, like is the verb, fishing is the object.
We could also correct this sentence by joining the dependent clause with an independent clause:
I am going to the lake, since I like fishing.
Again, we have a sentence fragment because of the subordinating conjunction "which." This sentence could be corrected by removing "which is why." The sentence "I cried." is a complete sentence. I is the subject, cried is the action. The sentence could also be corrected by joining it with an independent clause.
I was sad, which is why I cried.