Fragments and Run-on Sentences
A fragment is an incomplete sentence or thought that cannot stand on its own, and it can’t stand on its own and it’s incomplete because it’s missing either a noun or a verb.
So, let’s look at some examples of fragments.
“The beautiful blooming daisies in my yard”
Now, this is a lot of information. “The beautiful blooming daisies in my yard“, but, you have your noun, some adjectives to describe it, an article adjective, and then you’ve got a prepositional phrase that tells you where they are.
But, you’re missing something. You’re missing the verb. So, this one is a fragment.
So, you can have a longer sentence or a longer fragment that looks like a sentence, and still have it be a fragment because it’s missing either the noun or the verb.
So, we had our noun, but we were missing our verb. So, even though it looks long, it looks like it could be a sentence, don’t be fooled by the length of a fragment, because just because a phrase is long, doesn’t mean it’s a complete sentence.
Let’s look at another example.
“Waited all day at my house for you.”
In this sentence, we have an action, “Waiting“, so we’ve got our verb. “All day at my house for you“, well, you see some pronouns in there, but there’s no noun. There’s no subject of this sentence. So, you’re missing a subject noun in this one. So, it’s still a fragment. You’ve got the verb part, you’ve got the predicate part of your sentence, but you don’t have the subject part. So, this is a fragment. It is not a complete sentence.
So, when you’re looking for fragments, look for either missing verb or missing noun, because if you’re missing one of those, then your fragment cannot stand on its own, and will not be a complete sentence. In your writing, you need to revise these, and often, you can just add a little bit to a fragment to make it a complete sentence.
“The beautiful blooming daisies in my yard…”
“…look so nice this time of year.”
“…are going to win the contest.”
You can finish this sentence in any way.
“Waited all day at my house for you.” You could say:
“We waited all day at my house for you.”
“My mom and I waited…”
It’s a little bit more limited what you could put at the beginning of this sentence because we’ve got “my” and “you” for pronouns down here, but you still have options, and you could easily turn this fragment into a complete sentence.
Now, let’s look at run-on sentences.
A run-on sentence is a sentence that should be written as two sentences. It’s too long. It contains too much information and is confusing to the reader. And if it’s running on and on and on, then it’s likely there’s not a correct punctuation; and there are too many nouns, and too many verbs, crammed into one sentence. So, you need to break it up so that you’ve got separate, complete thoughts, and it’s easier for the reader to understand.
Let’s look at these examples of run-on sentences, and then correct them.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were going to be thunderstorms tomorrow I was planning on having a barbecue outside to celebrate summer.”
This is a lot of information, so we need to see where one thought ends, and another one starts so that we can split it up.
“I couldn’t believe it“, well, we want to know what she couldn’t believe. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were going to be thunderstorms tomorrow“. So all that is one thought, so we’re going to separate this and put a period, and we would need to capitalize the next letter, but since it was “I“, it was automatically capitalized.
“I was planning on having a barbecue outside to celebrate summer.”
Now, we have two complete sentences. They’re separate, it’s not too much information in each sentence, and it’s not going to be confusing to the reader.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were going to be thunderstorms tomorrow. I was planning on having a barbecue outside to celebrate summer.”
So, now, it’s not so confusing. It doesn’t just run on and on and on. We didn’t have so many subjects and so many verbs in one sentence. Now, we’ve separated it out and made it easier for the reader to understand right away.
Let’s look at our next example.
“John and Mary had so much fun they went to the fair and rode rides and ate cotton candy!”
Now, this one, we need to find where we need to split it up. We have another run-on sentence, we’ve got a lot of actions, but we need to see where we could split it up to keep the subject and verb of one sentence, and the subject and verb of a second sentence, and make it two complete sentences. We don’t want to split it up incorrectly and leave a fragment somewhere.
“John and Mary“, let’s look at what they did. “John and Mary had so much fun they“, when we get to “they“, that’s a new pronoun, that’s a new subject, so we should stop there.
“John and Mary had so much fun.” And then, if we’re starting a new sentence, we need to capitalize our “T” in “they“.
“John and Mary had so much fun. They went to the fair and rode rides and ate cotton candy!”
So, now, we have two complete thoughts. First, we’re saying they had fun, and then we’re saying how they had fun, and we didn’t keep it a run-on sentence to where we had this pronoun in the middle of this sentence, making it sound a little confusing.
We have “John and Mary having fun”, and then, “they went to the fair and rode rides and ate cotton candy”. So, we split it up into two sentences that are easier to understand, and you also would want to revise any run-on sentences in your writing.
If you see a sentence that’s going on and on for three or four lines, you probably need to find somewhere in there to break it up, so that it isn’t a run-on sentence.
You can have sentences that are more complex if you’re using semicolons, etc., but, you don’t want it to be so long that there are too many ideas in one sentence.
So, when you’re writing, make sure you don’t have any incomplete thoughts that are missing a noun or verb. You don’t want any fragments in your writing, and make sure that none of your sentences are going on so long and including too much information that it makes it a run-on sentence.