Correcting Sentence Fragments

Every complete sentence must have, at a minimum, a subject and a verb. The sentence must also express a complete thought. If a sentence is lacking one or more of these three essential components, it is a sentence fragment. Below, you'll find a few tips and tricks on effectively correcting sentence fragments.

Correcting Sentence Fragments Correcting Sentence Fragments

Components of a Sentence

Every sentence must have at least three components to be considered a complete sentence:

  1. The sentence must express a complete thought; we need to know what it's about.
  2. The sentence must have a subject: a person or thing that the sentence is about. This is usually a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun.
  3. The sentence must express an action. This is usually a verb.

For several examples of what a complete thought should look like, check out these Examples of Complete Sentences.

Sentences can also contain:

Let's look at a sentence example that includes each of these components:

Esperanza hurriedly ran her little dog to the park.

You can see how these different parts come together to form a complete sentence.

  • Esperanza = subject
  • hurriedly = adverb
  • ran = verb
  • her = pronoun
  • little = adjective
  • dog = object
  • to the park = dependent clause

Defining a Sentence Fragment

There are many ways to fix a sentence fragment. But, let's start with what, exactly, a sentence fragment is:

  • It doesn't express a complete thought.
    For example: For example, milk and eggs.
    This sentence is lacking a complete thought - what are the milk and eggs an example of?
  • It's lacking a subject.
    For example: Eating chicken.
    This sentence is lacking a subject - who or what is eating chicken?
  • It's doesn't express an action.
    For 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.
  • It's a dependent clause, standing alone.
    For example: Because I went to the store.
    The conjunction "because" makes this clause dependent. A dependent clause can't stand alone, it needs to be attached to an independent clause

How to Correct Sentence Fragments

Knowing how to correct a sentence fragment depends on what's lacking. Here are three ways to make sentence fragment corrections:

  1. Add a subject or verb to complete the thought.
    Sentence Fragment: Enjoying his latest self-development book.
    Complete Sentence: Roland was enjoying his latest self-development book.
  2. Join the dependent clause with an independent clause to complete the thought.
    Sentence Fragment: Because her puppy got sick.
    Complete Sentence: Kelly was late for work because her puppy got sick.

    In this example, you can also remove the subordinating word to complete the thought. Either a period or semicolon would work in the corrected thought.
    Sentence Fragment: Kelly was late. Because her puppy got sick.
    Complete Thought: Kelly was late. Her puppy got sick.

  3. Rewrite the portion with the fragment.
    Sentence Fragment: He ran through the door. Clenching his water bottle. When he reached the crib, he saw that the baby was okay.
    Complete Sentence: He ran through the door. His hands clenched his water bottle. When he reached the crib, he saw that the baby was okay.

For more, check out these Sentence Fragment Examples. There, you'll find a list of fragments, followed by their proper revisions.

Write Right Today!

In a hurried world filled with emails and texts, it can be easy to landslide into sentence fragments. But, save the fragments for a fun text with your gal pal. When writing for school or work, keep a keen eye on your potential for fragments.

To help you stay in tip-top shape, check out Definition of Academic Writing. In it, we discuss the primary characteristics of academic writing, as well as the best way to structure this form. Likewise, for professional contexts, Types of Business Communication Writing will help you format your work properly and keep your emails in tip-top shape.

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