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