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3.1: Common Errors - Fragments

  • Page ID
    70173
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    A fragment occurs when a group of words that does not form a complete sentence is punctuated as though it is a complete sentence. Here are three common types of fragments and ways to correct them:

    The fragment may lack a predicate because the verb is incomplete:

    Fragment: The runners staggering in the 100-degree heat.

    Complete sentence: The runners were staggering in the 100-degree heat.

    Note

    The present participle staggering is not a complete verb without the helping verb were. See Progressive Verb Tenses.

    The fragment may be a dependent (subordinate) clause that needs to be attached to an independent clause:

    Fragment: Unless she could earn the money for tuition.

    Complete sentence: Unless she could earn the money for tuition, she would have to drop out of school.

    Note

    The fragment here is an adverb clause and does not express a complete thought unless it is attached to an independent clause. See Complex Sentences.

    Fragment: Which was the best thing to do.

    Complete sentence: My sister decided to sell the house, which was the best thing to do.

    Note

    The fragment here is an adjective clause and does not express a complete thought unless it is attached to an independent clause. See Complex Sentences.

    The fragment may be a subject with modifiers that needs a linking verb.

    Fragment: Doubt and mistrust everywhere, fogging the minds of managers and workers alike.

    Complete Sentence: Doubt and mistrust were everywhere, fogging the minds of managers and workers alike.

    Note

    Were supplies the needed linking verb in this sentence. Fogging may seem like a verb, but it is only part of a participial phrase and cannot be a complete verb without a helping verb.

    Use these criteria to test for sentence fragments:

    Is there a verb? → (NO) It is a fragment

    Is there a subject? → (NO) It is a fragment

    Does the sentence convey a complete idea? → (NO) It is a fragment

    → (Yes to all of the above) It is a complete sentence

    Exercise

    Repair any fragment by attaching the fragment to a nearby sentence or by rewriting it as a complete sentence. If the word group is correct, write “correct” after it.

    1. The climate crisis we face.
    2. In Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, draws himself and his family as a mouse.
    3. The advertisement invoked many emotions. Fear, envy, and lust.
    4. It’s not the past that scares me, but the future.
    5. Although I have difficulty reading Korean. I can speak it with my parents easily.

    Contributors and Attributions


    3.1: Common Errors - Fragments is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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