“Must you write complete sentences each time, every time? Perish the thought.” --Stephen King On Writing Sentence Fragments
Sentence Fragments • A fragment can be a word, a phrase, or a clause. • A group of words that does not express a complete statement or claim, but that is written as one, in that it begins with a capital letter and ends with end punctuation. • Room. (one-word fragment) • Into the room. (phrase fragment) • Because the teacher walked into the room. (clause fragment) Clause fragments are the most difficult to spot, because seem long enough to be sentences. Length is not a criteria for a complete sentence.
Stylistic Sentence Fragments When is it ok to use a sentence fragment deliberately? Only break the rule once you know it Have a particular stylistic effect in mind Consider the circumstances. Perhaps your final research paper is not the place to experiment -- or, then again, maybe it is. Conversational style vs. academic or formal style
Stylistic Sentence Fragments E.B.White, author of Elements of Style states: It is permissible to make an emphatic word or expression serve the purpose of a sentence and to punctuate it accordingly: Again and again he called out. No reply. The writer must, however, be certain that the emphasis is warranted, lest his clipped sentence seem merely a blunder in syntax or in punctuation. Generally speaking, the place for broken sentences is in dialogue, when a character happens to speak in a clipped or fragmentary way.
Stylistic Sentence Fragments Another type of stylistic fragment is sometimes called a “fragment question” For example: When should writers take on a conversational tone? E-mails? Creative writing? Letters to political leaders? Got milk? Done with sentence fragments? Not quite.
Stylistic Sentence Fragments • An interjection—a word (or phrase) that expresses an exclamatory idea—can be treated like a deliberate stylistic fragment. • Interjections are usually punctuated with an exclamation point. A student told me that he had never been taught how to write a complete sentence. Nonsense! Enough already! Let’s stop talking about grammar.