Learn how to correct your grammar errors by identifying sentence fragments.
A fragment is an incomplete sentence.
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The transcript is provided for your convenience.
To produce a sentence that is grammatically complete, your sentence needs to adhere to three (3) different rules:
- The sentence should include a subject (the noun that’s performing the action of the sentence).
- The sentence needs to include a predicate (the verb that’s connected to the sentence’s subject).
- The sentence is required to be a complete thought (so it should be able to stand on its own and must make sense).
If sentences meet these 3 criteria, they can stand on their own and are referred to as independent clauses. When things are independent, they obviously don’t need help in any way.
If written sentences do not conform to all of these three (3) rules, they are fragments.
Fragments are groups of words that are written as a sentence but do not conform to all three above-listed rules. In other words, fragments are missing a noun or a subject or are not complete thoughts. The majority of fragments in writings of college-level students resulting from independent clauses and dependent clauses that they haven’t put together in that same sentence.
If writers are aware of these sentence construction rules and make sure they’re followed at all times, fixing fragments is a fairly straightforward operation.
Just look at a few examples of fragments and their possible fixes:
- Incorrect: I must study more for our math class. Because I’m not doing so well.
In this sentence, the 2nd sentence is a dependent clause (what are you not doing well?). It must be connected to the 1st sentence, the independent clause.
- After revision: I must study more for our math class because I’m not doing so well.
- Incorrect: Aims College is offering multiple classes at varied times. That’s why I decided on the school.
Here again, in the 2nd sentence, we have a dependent clause (why did you decide on Aims?). It must be connected to the 1st sentence, the independent clause.
- After revision: Aims College is offering multiple classes at varied times, which is why I decided on the school.
- Incorrect: Minnesota’s weather can be pretty hard to live with. In winter, always cold and in the summer can get hot and humid.
Our 2nd sentence has no subject; it may be connected to the 1st independent clause or it must restate the subject. If we would insert the pronoun “it” to refer back to Minnesota’s weather will deal with this.
- After revision: Minnesota’s weather can be pretty hard to live with. In winter, it is always cold and in the summer, it can get hot and humid.
- Incorrect: A well-written essay including many facts and proper citations.
This example sentence is lacking a complete verb, the predicate. Because the predicate is lacking, we’re not sure either what the sentence’s subject is.
- After revision: This is (or she turned in) a well-written essay including many facts and proper citations.
Note that we often can find fragments in different types of writing, such as novels, poems, or personal interest pieces in magazines and newspapers. In this sort of cases, the fragments are used to have a certain effect wanted by the writer.
The writer, in these cases, is well aware that he or she is using a fragment. In academic essays, however, fragments should be avoided at all times.