A fragment is part of a sentence that is missing a subject or verb, and it does not express a complete thought. While it is punctuated to look like a complete sentence, a fragment cannot stand on its own.
Here are the distinguishing features of a sentence fragment:
- It is missing a subject
- Ran to the store faster than a rabbit.
- (Missing the subject- who ran?)
- It is missing a verb or has the wrong verb form
- My favorite history teacher.
- (Missing the verb- What did the teacher do or say?)
- It is a leftover phrase
- For better or worse.
- (Leftover phrase- What is it modifying?)
- It is an abandoned clause
- When my mother married my father.
- (Abandoned clause- What happened when “my mother married my father?”)
- It is a misuse of “such as, for example, especially,” etc.
- For example, my brother was practicing martial arts.
- (Misuse of “for example- Did something happen when my brother was practicing martial arts?)
Once you’ve identified what your sentence fragment is missing, fix it using one of these strategies:
Three Ways to Fix a Fragment
1. Attach the fragment to a nearby complete sentence.
Sometimes a fragment occurs because it’s a leftover of from a previous sentence or it’s an abandoned clause meant to introduce the following sentence.
Incorrect: I forgot to eat breakfast. On the morning of my driver’s test.
Correct: I forgot to eat breakfast on the morning of my driver’s test.
Incorrect: If the front door is locked. Use the back entrance.
Correct: If the front door is locked, use the back entrance.
2. Revise the fragment by adding whatever is missing – subject, verb, complete thought.
Incorrect: Loves to lie around in the sun all day. (Subject is missing. Who loves to lie around?)
Correct: My roommate’s pug loves to lie around in the sun all day.
Incorrect: Joe to train everyday. (Verb is missing. Also, “to train” is the wrong verb form.)
Correct: Joe trains everyday for the marathon next month.
Correct: Joe is training everyday for the marathon next month.
3. Rewrite the fragment or the entire passage that contains the fragment.
Incorrect: Our new landlord was expected to make changes. Such as fixing the plumbing,
installing a new washer, and replacing the security gate. Has not done any of it yet and weeks have passed.
Correct: Our new landlord was expected to make changes, such as fixing the plumbing, installing a new washer, and replacing the security gate lock. Weeks have passed, and he still has not done any of it yet.