Sentence Fragment: What is it? How to Fix it?

A complete sentence is a good sentence; it has no room for sentence fragments.

What is a sentence fragment?
A sentence fragment is a group of words that does not express a complete thought. It is missing a subject or a verb, which makes an incomplete sentence. Even though it may begin with a capital letter and contain punctuation, which looks like a sentence, it is still not considered a complete sentence.

A sentence fragment does not contain a main clause. It is missing essential components that make it a complete thought.

What is the main clause?

The main clause (also called an independent clause, base clause, or superordinate clause) is a group of words that consists of a subject and a predicate. And it expresses a complete concept.

How to spot a sentence fragment?

Generally, if a sentence’s key elements are missing (subject, predicate, and a complete thought) and if the reader is left hanging without the sense of full thought, you can identify a sentence as a fragmented one.

Here is a list of characteristics that makes a sentence fragment and their examples:

1. Missing subject
Example: Jumped over the lazy dog.
Who jumped over the lazy dog?

Correct: The fox jumped over the lazy dog.

2. Missing verb or using the wrong verb

Example: The fox over the lazy dog.

What did the fox do? Is the sentence expressing that the fox is over the lazy dog?

Correct: The fox jumped over the lazy dog.

3. Participle phrases

Example: Surprised by the flower.

Who was surprised? Or did the flower surprise someone? The thought of the sentence becomes illogical, which is why you need to complete the sentence.

Correct: Surprised by the flower, my mother was speechless.

4. Subordinators or Relative clause

Example: Although Greg was scared.

Greg was scared about what? A clause that starts with subordinators or relative pronoun can’t stand alone, thus, classified as a dependent clause.

Correct: Although Greg was scared, he stood up to fight for his rights.

5. Abandoned claus

Example: It was dark in the house.

What happened then? An abandoned clause is putting the reader hanging and confused.

Correct: It was dark in the house when I saw a ghost.

6. Appositives

Example: The most generous student in the class.
Who was the most generous student? An appositive is a noun phrase that defines or explains the preceding noun or pronoun. And since it lacks action verbs or any clarifying information, appositives can’t stand alone as a complete sentence.

Correct: The most generous student in the class is the person sitting at the back.

How to Turn a Sentence Fragment into a Complete Sentence?

  • Read the sentence carefully and spot any sentence fragment. However, if you are having a hard time doing so, you may use sentence fragment checker – a grammar checker tool that can help you big time.
  • Revise the sentence by completing what is missing.
  • Rewrite the passage if it needs to.
  • Read again to ensure that the sentence is complete.