Sentence Fragments

Identifying and Fixing Sentence Fragments

 

What is a Sentence Fragment?

 
A sentence fragment is a dependent clause which has improperly been made to stand alone as a sentence. This commonly occurs when a sentence consists of a single clause and a conjunction.

A sentence fragment might appear as the second sentence in the following passage:

  • “He was already wishing he could leave. Although he had just gotten to the party.”

Sentence fragments can sometimes be tough to spot. The sentence fragment in our example makes sense because of the context in which it is given. However, the sentence fragment above does not express a complete thought without the sentence which precedes it:

  • “Although he had just gotten to the party.”

When that sentence is taken out of its context, the reader is left wondering, “What happened although he had just gotten to the party?”
 

How to fix a sentence fragment

 
An easy way to fix a sentence fragment is to delete the conjunction — in our example, the word Although. While doing this results in a grammatically correct sentence, it is usually ungraceful.

  • “He was already wishing he could leave. He had just gotten to the party.”

A better method for fixing sentence fragments is to delete the period (you could also replace the period with a comma), and then change the first letter of the conjunction to lower case. In our example, simply deleting the period results in a smoother sentence than using a comma:

  • “He was already wishing he could leave although he had just gotten to the party.”

In our example, an even more effective fix is to reverse the clauses and separate them with a comma, keeping the conjunction at the beginning of the independent clause.

  • “Although he had just gotten to the party, he was already wishing he could leave.”

 
Jake Magnum, author of the Magnum Proofreading Blog, is dedicated to helping writers perfect their work. In addition to giving free advice on his blog, Jake helps writers by offering very affordable proofreading services at magnumproofreading.com.

 

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