Avoiding Sentence Fragments Making Sure Your Sentences Are Complete
Complete Sentences To be complete, a sentence must have • a subject and • a verb and • express a completed idea. Note: It has a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end. (Period = full stop)
Example: • My homework is taking every waking hour. Complete sentence! • INCLUDES • Subject (My homework) • Verb (is taking) • and • Expresses a complete idea (I’m tired!)
So all you have to remember is: A sentence is not complete or correct, unless • It has a subject, • it has a verb, • and it expresses a completed idea.
Fragments My math homework. • No VERB: Doesn’t express the action Taking every waking hour. • No SUBJECT: Doesn’t explain who or what Because my math homework is taking every waking hour. • No COMPLETED IDEA. Because of this, what?
Common Fragment Types APPOSITIVE PHRASE: Words that explain or add extra information • I tried everything I could think of to get an A. Such as bribing the professor. • I tried everything I could think of to get an A, such as bribing the professor. FRAGMENT Correct
Common Fragment Types PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE • I hope to complete the requirements for my major. By the end of next semester. • I hope to complete the requirements for my major by the end of next semester. FRAGMENT Correct
Common Fragment Types INCOMPLETE VERBS: past or present participles without the helping verb • The student sleeping in the back row. • The student was sleeping in the back row. FRAGMENT Correct
Common Fragment Types Dependent Clause: Group of words that contains a subject and verb but doesn’t express a complete thought because of the beginning word. • I kept working on my essay. Although I was tired. • I kept working on my essay, although I was tired. FRAGMENT Correct
One Common Problem Area • It is OK for a subject to be a pronoun. Example: I can’t decide what to do. It is a difficult situation. • Subject: It • Verb: Is • Completed idea: a difficult situation As long as there is a word that acts as subject (it) the sentence fits the “subject/verb/completed idea” formula.
How To Check for Fragments • Put the words “It is clear that …” in front of the possible fragment. Does it make sense? If so, it’s a complete sentence. • EXAMPLE: • It is difficult. Fragment or sentence? • It’s clear that it is difficult. (Makes sense, so not a fragment.) • Because it is difficult. Fragment or sentence? • It’s clear that because it is difficult. (?? Doesn’t make sense so is a fragment.)
Watch Out for a Common Trap! • Just because you write a lot of words, you don’t necessarily have a complete sentence. • Although I have tried many ways to get an “A”, such as paying off the professor and offering to carry her books to class each day and assuring her that I love my writing class more than life itself. FRAGMENT!You haven’t finished the “although” idea, so you haven’t finished your thought.
But you knew that, because you remembered that… …a sentence is not complete or correct, unless • It has a subject; • it has a verb, • and it expresses a completed idea.