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Sentence Fragments. Overview What is a “fragment” Types of fragments How to fix fragments Activity. What is a sentence fragment?. Fragments are incomplete sentences. Usually, they are pieces of sentences that have become disconnected from the main clause.

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sentence fragments

Sentence Fragments

Overview

What is a “fragment”

Types of fragments

How to fix fragments

Activity

what is a sentence fragment
What is a sentence fragment?
  • Fragments are incomplete sentences.
  • Usually, they are pieces of sentences that have become disconnected from the main clause.
  • You may notice fragments in the things that you read – novels, newspaper articles, online articles, magazines, etc. Sometimes fragments are used stylistically in writing (to creat emphasis)
  • In formal, academic writing, however, you should avoid fragments.
a complete sentence
A complete sentence…
  • Names a subject– the who or what that performs the action
  • Has a complete verb that indicates tense, person, and number.
  • Includes at least one independent clauseand does not begin with a subordinating word (a word that connects a dependent clause to an independent clause)
an independent clause
An Independent Clause…
  • is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought—an independent clause is a simple sentence.
examples
Examples
  • Simple Sentence—subject, verb, predicate

Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for her chemistry quiz.

Subject Verb Predicate (expresses what is true about the subject)

  • Compound Sentence—at least two independent clauses connected by a coordinator/connector word

Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for her chemistry quiz, Subject Verb Predicate

and later she wrote her paper.

Connecting word Subject Predicate

  • Complex Sentence—one independent clause (main clause) and one dependent clause

Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for hours because

subject Verb Predicate Subordinating word (Dependent clause)

she had a chemistry quiz the next day.

Subject Verb Predicate

a dependent clause
A Dependent Clause…
  • is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb but does not express a complete thought.
  • A dependent clause cannot be a sentence.
  • Often you can identify a dependent clause because it begins with a connecting (conjunctive or subordinating) word—see the “Connecting Word List” handout to learn what these words are.

Because Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for hours.

Although Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for hours.

And Rebecca studied in the coffee shop for hours.

(The thoughts are incomplete—they are fragments of thoughts.)

examples of fragments
Examples of Fragments
  • No complete subject or verb: For example, the library.
  • Revision: For example, MSU built the library.
  • No subject: Built the library, for example.
  • Revision:MSU built the library, for example.
  • Dependent clause only: Because students needed a place to do research.
  • Revision:MSU built the library because students needed a place to do research.
dependent clause fragments
Dependent Clause Fragments
  • These begin with a subordinating word. (See the handout on “Connecting Words” for examples.)
  • They can be easily fixed by attaching the fragment to nearby independent clause either
    • with a comma (,) or
    • by creating two sentences by deleting the subordinating word at the beginning of the dependent clause.
    • EXCEPTION: don’t use a comma (,) before “because”
examples9
Examples
  • Fragment: MSU offers many engineering majors. Such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering.
  • Revision: MSU offers many engineering majors, such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering.
  • Fragment: I need to find a new roommate. Because the one I have now isn’t working out too well.
  • Revision: I need to find a new roommate because the one I have now isn’t working out too well.
more examples
More examples
  • Fragment: The current city policy on housing is incomplete as it stands. Which is why we believe the new plan should be passed.
  • Revision: The current city policy on housing is incomplete as it stands, which is why we believe thenew plan should be passed.
  • Revision: Because the current city policy on housing is incomplete as it stands, we believe the proposed amendments should be passed.
  • Fragment: Our group did not work well together for two reasons. When members disagreed about priorities or fought about how to divide the work.
  • Revision: Our group did not work well together for two reasons. Members disagreed about priorities or fought about how to divide the work.
phrase fragments
Phrase Fragments
  • Often fragments are phrase fragments – groups of words that lack a subject or complete verb and are usually meant to be modifiers or nouns.
  • Phrase fragments usually begin with verbals, or words that come from verbs, like putting (gerund) or to put (infinitive).
phrase fragments gerunds
Phrase fragments (gerunds)
  • Gerunds—gerunds are verbals; they are words that come from verbs and end with –ing. Gerunds can function like nouns or subjects in sentences.

Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.

Subject

They do not appreciate my singing.

Direct Object

My cat's favorite activity is sleeping.

Subject Complement

The police arrested him for speeding.

Object of Preposition

phrase fragments infinitives
Phrase Fragments (infinitives)

To wait seemed foolish when action was required.

Subject

Everyone wanted to go.

Direct Object

His ambition is to fly.

Subject Complement

He lacked the strength to resist.

Adjective

We must study to learn.

Adverb

phrase fragments beginning with verbals
Phrase Fragments (beginning with verbals)
  • One way to fix this is to transform the phrase fragment into an independent clause.

Fragment: That summer we had so much fun. Fishing in the early morning, splashing in the lake after lunch, exploring the woods before dinner, and playing Scrabble until bedtime.

Revision: That summer we had so much fun. We fished in the early morning, splashed in the lake after lunch, explored the woods before dinner, and played Scrabble until bedtime.

Fragment: Coach Smith exemplified bad behavior by walking off the field in the middle of t he game. Leaving her team at a time when we needed her.

Revision: Coach Smith exemplified bad behavior by walking off the field in the middle of the game. She left her team at a time when we needed her.

Fragment: To run along the beach.

Revision: We run along the beach.

Revision: We love to run along the beach.

Fragment: Playing outside in the winter.

Revision: The children like to play outside in the winter.

Revision: The children like playing outside in the winter.

phrase fragments beginning with verbals15
Phrase Fragments (beginning with verbals)
  • Another way to fix it is to attach the fragment to the part of the previous sentence that it modifies.

Fragment: That summer we had so much fun. Fishing in the early morning, splashing in the lake after lunch, exploring the woods before dinner, and playing Scrabble until bedtime.

Revision: That summer we had so much fun, fishing in the early morning, splashing in the lake after lunch, exploring the woods before dinner, and playing Scrabble until bedtime.

Fragment: Coach Smith exemplified bad behavior by walking off the field in the middle of the game. Leaving her team at a time when we needed her.

Revision: Coach Smith exemplified bad behavior by walking off the field in the middle of the game, leaving her team at a time when we needed her.

phrase fragments with no subject or no main verb
Phrase Fragments with No subject or No Main Verb
  • Some fragments are not clearly pieces of sentences that have been left unattached to the main clause; instead, they are written as main clauses but lack a subject or a verb.

(No main verb)

  • Fragment: A record of accomplishment beginning when you were first hired.
  • Revision: A record of accomplishment beganwhen you were first hired.

(No subject or verb)

  • Fragment: A story with deep thoughts and emotions.
  • Revision: She told a story with deep thoughts and emotions.

(No main verb)

  • Fragment: Toys of all kinds everywhere.
  • Revision: Toys of all kinds wereeverywhere.
mixed constructions
Mixed Constructions
  • Mixed Constructions start out one way (often with long prepositional phrases) and then end with a regular predicate.
  • Usually the object of the preposition (often a gerund, as in the last two examples) is intended as the subject of the sentence.
  • Therefore, removing the preposition at the beginning of the sentence is usually the easiest way to fix the fragment error.
  • Look for sentences that begin with prepositional phrases.
mixed constructions continued
Mixed Constructions (continued)
  • Remember that prepositions are words that show relationships between parts of sentences.
  • A prepositional phrase includes a preposition, a noun or pronoun, and any words that modify the noun or pronoun.
  • Some common prepositional words and phrases begin with the words listed on your handout. (Look at your handout!)
mixed constructions examples
Mixed Constructions: Examples

(No subject)

  • Fragment: With the ultimate effect of all advertising is to sell the product.
  • Revision: Theultimate effect of all advertising is to sell the product. (remove the preposition “with”)

(No subject)

  • Fragment: By paying too much attention to disruptive students can make a teacher grumpy.
  • Revision: Paying too much attention to disruptive students can make teacher grumpy. (remove the preposition “by”)

(No subject)

  • Fragment: For doing photography for another newspaper got Phil fired.
  • Revision: Doingphotography for another newspaper got Phil fired. (remove the preposition “for”)
  • Revision: Phil got fired for doing photography for another newspaper. (rearrange the sentence)
other types of fragments
Other Types of Fragments

Word Groups that Start with Transitions

  • Some fragments start with two- or three-word prepositions that function as transitions, like as well as, as compared with, except for, in addition to, in contrast with, in spite of, and instead of. (See the list of prepositional phrases on your handout for more examples.)
  • Fragment: For sixty-five years, the growth in consumer spending has been both steep and steady. As compared with the growth in gross domestic product (GDP), which has fluctuated significantly.
  • Revision: For sixty-five years, the growth in consumer spending has been both steep and steady, as compared with the growth in gross domestic product (GDP), which has fluctuated significantly.
other types of fragments21
Other Types of Fragments

Words and Phrases that Introduce Examples

  • It is always a good idea to check words groups beginning with for example, like, specifically, such as, etc.
  • Fragment: Elizabeth I of England faced many dangers as a princess. For example, falling out of favor with

her sister, Queen Mary, and being imprisoned in the Tower of London.

  • Revision: Elizabeth I of England faced many dangers as a princess. For example, she fell out of favor with

her sister, Queen Mary, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

other types of fragments22
Other Types of Fragments

Appositives

  • An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames a noun or pronoun.
  • Fragment: In 1965, Lyndon Johnson increased the number of troops in Vietnam. A former French colony in

southeast Asia.

  • Revision: In 1965, Lyndon Johnson increased the number of troops in Vietnam, a former French colony in southeast Asia.
  • Fragment: Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper.” A story with deep thoughts and emotions.
  • Revision: Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story with deep thoughts and emotions.
other types of fragments23
Other Types of Fragments

Lists

  • Usually, you can connect a list to the preceding sentence using a colon. If you want to emphasize the list, consider using a dash (em dash) instead.
  • Fragment: In the 1930s, three great band leaders helped popularize Jazz. Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington.
  • Revision: In the 1930s, three great band leaders helped popularize Jazz: Louis Armstrong, Benny

Goodman, and Duke Ellington.

other types of fragments24
Other Types of Fragments

Compound Predicates

  • A compound predicate is made up of at least two verbs as well as their objects and modifiers, connected by a coordinating conjunction such as and, but, so, or, nor, for, and yet. The parts of the predicate have the same subject and should be together in one sentence.
  • Fragment: The group gathered at dawn at the base of the mountain. And assembled their gear in preparation for the morning’s climb.
  • Revision: The group gathered at dawn at the base of the mountain and assembled their gear in preparation for the morning’s climb.
  • Fragment: Ron and Tina packed their suitcases. And packed some food as well.
  • Revision: Ron and Tina packed their suitcases and some food as well.
now you try
Now You Try…
  • There are two exercises on your handout that I’d like you to work on.
  • Then we will do some exercises together online: Fragment Exercises.
  • Finally, look for fragments in your own work.