Does the phrase “sentence fragment” fill you with dread? We promise it doesn’t have to, even if there’s an English teacher somewhere in your past (or present) who was always on your case about them.
What’s a sentence fragment?
A complete sentence requires a subject and a verb. It’s possible to have a complete sentence that’s just two words long, like this one: I am.
A sentence fragment (also known as an incomplete sentence) is a sentence that’s missing a subject, a verb, or both. Here’s an example of a sentence fragment: On my way home.
On my way home is a prepositional phrase. There’s no subject and no verb here, so this is an incomplete sentence. From context, though, the meaning is clear. You can easily supply the subject and verb to turn it into a complete sentence: I am on my way home.
When should you avoid sentence fragments?
Is a sentence fragment a grammatical error? Not exactly. Highly skilled writers use sentence fragments all the time to create a conversational, casual tone in their writing. They’re extremely common in speech, too. But when you’re expected to sound formal, as in a business letter or academic paper, it’s usually better to avoid sentence fragments.
There are many ways to turn a sentence fragment into a complete sentence. You can add the missing subject or verb, you can combine it with another sentence, or you can attach it to another sentence with punctuation.
How Grammarly can help
The good news is that Grammarly Premium can help you identify and fix sentence fragments with just a couple of clicks, so you can be confident that your writing always looks polished and professional. Read on for a few examples:
Fragment: Waiting for her reply.
Grammarly’s suggestion: I am waiting for her reply.
Fragment: On the other hand. The risk of bad weather is fairly low.
Grammarly’s suggestion: On the other hand, the risk of bad weather is fairly low.
Fragment: There are only a couple of points left to negotiate. The start date and title.
Grammarly’s suggestion: There are only a couple of points left to negotiate: the start date and title.
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