Sentence Fragments

Posted: April 29th, 2014, 9:46 am   By: brittany.corners

“‘Sentence fragment’ is also a sentence fragment.”—Lisa Simpson, with a pithy, incisive lesson on fragmentation


This week we discuss sentence fragments.

Sentence fragments are just incomplete sentences. In their most basic form, sentences require at least a subject and a verb: Generally, you’re talking about something doing something. If you’re missing either these of two elements, you’ve got yourself a fragment. Consider these two examples:

  1. The man with artistic genius and formidable pecs.
    • Problem: It’s missing a verb
  2. Vomited upon seeing Rick Pitino’s tattoo.
    • Problem: It’s missing a subject.
      Corrected: The entire world vomited upon seeing Rick Pitino’s tattoo.

Despite their simple definition, fragments can be sneaky little buggers. Keep in mind an important point: Sentence fragment don’t always have to be short. In fact, they frequently result when a writer constructs a complex sentence and leaves a piece stranded from the main clause. With cases like these, you often need to fix a problem with a misplaced period. Check out these two fragment situations:

  1. I absolutely adore country music. Because two simpletons can, over the course of three glorious minutes, manage to solve a Gordian knot of sociocultural problems.
    • Problem: We have a stranded dependent clause.
      Corrected: I absolutely adore country music because two simpletons can, over the course of three glorious minutes, manage to solve a Gordian knot of sociocultural problems.
  2. Even this complex sentence, which consists of more than one clause, including this one that contains a subject and verb, which might be getting confusing.
    • Problem: The main clause has no verb.
      Corrected: Even this complex sentence, which consists of more than one clause, including this one that contains a subject and verb, which might be getting confusing, needs a verb to create a complete sentence.

Now you can avoid sentence fragments completely. See what I did there?