A sentence fragment doesn’t have the key element, which is the main clause. Thus, unlike a correct sentence, a fragment doesn’t contain an independent statement. Learn more about fragments with editors from Writers House.
How to Find and Fix Fragments
The better you understand grammar, the easier it will be for you to find and fix fragments. However, you may also cope with this task if you just take a look at some examples and use your intuition. There are two most common types of sentence fragments.
Some fragments don’t make a statement there is no predicate, just a subject:
- The committee mentioned in the discussion, which initiated the procedure.
Although there is the word “initiated,” this sentence still has no predicate, only a one-sentence long subject. Thus, we can see that this is just a sentence fragment.
You can fix this fragment if you make the initiation of the procedure your central point:
- The committee mentioned in the discussion initiated the procedure.
You can also add a predicate that will tell readers more about the committee:
- The committee mentioned in the discussion, which initiated the procedure, agreed on the budget.
There is also another type of fragment. Fragments of this kind have both a subject and predicate. However, such sentences are still incomplete. Most often, these sentences begin with a subordinating conjunction, such as “because,” “although,” or “when.” Here’s an example:
- I voted for the amendment. Although it didn’t make any difference in the results.
Here’s how you can fix this fragment by making one sentence out of the first sentence and the fragment:
- I voted for the amendment, although it didn’t make any difference in the results.
You can also replace the conjunction with an adverb:
- I voted for the amendment. However, it didn’t make any difference in the results.
It will be easier for you to spot sentence fragments if you read aloud.
When Are Fragments Appropriate?
Some fragments don’t need to be fixed. However, everything depends on your genre. For example, sometimes they are used by novelists to make prose more impressive. For instance, Dickens has many fragments in his Bleak House, where they are used to describe the environment. Sentence fragments are also common in journalism.
Although fragments can be used in some types of writing, you should always avoid using them in academic writing and other formal genres. The only exception is when you provide an answer to a question: “What is the main reason for these disasters? Global warming.” Fragments are also used to add a little bit of informality: “Our efforts had no effect on the committee. None at all.”