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A fragment forms part of a sentence which is presented as though it were a complete sentence.

A fragment may be missing a subject or verb or both, or it may be a subordinate clause not connected to a complete sentence. Since fragments are not complete sentences, they do not express complete thoughts.


No Subject:

1)Ran to catch the bus.

2)Ate all the chocolate hidden in the drawer.

No Verb:

3)The box sitting in the trunk.

4)The man in the room.

No Subject or Verb:

5)Feeling happy.

6)Acting poorly.

Subordinate Clause:

7)When I woke him up early this morning.

8)If it is as pleasant as you expect today.

Correcting Fragments

Fragments are often created when phrases and subordinate clauses are punctuated as though they were complete sentences. Recall that phrases can never stand alone because they are groups of words that do not have subjects or verbs. To correct phrase fragments, add the information they need to be complete.

Subordinate clauses, on the other hand, do contain subjects and verbs. Like phrases, however, they do not convey complete thoughts. They can be completed by connecting them to main clauses. They can also be completed by dropping the subordinating conjunction. Correct each fragment in the manner that makes the most logical sense within the context of the passage and your purpose.


Phrase fragment

a big house


A big house at the end of the block burned down last evening.
(Fragment becomes subject; predicate is added.)

My sister recently purchased a big house.
(Fragment becomes direct object; subject and predicate added.)

She earned enough money for a big house. (Fragment becomes object of the preposition; subject, predicate, and direct object added.)

Did you visit his newest acquisition, a big house?
(Fragment becomes appositive; subject, predicate, and direct object added.)

Subordinating Clause Fragment

When I woke him up early this morning.


I woke him up early this morning.
(Subordinating conjunction is dropped.)

When I woke him up early this morning, he was far grouchier than I expected.
(Fragment is connected to a main clause.)

Subordinating Clause Fragment

If it is as pleasant as you expect today.


It is as pleasant as you expect today.
(Subordinating conjunction is dropped.)

If it is as pleasant as you expect today, maybe we will have a chance to go to the beach.
(Fragment is connected to a main clause.)

Acceptable Uses of Fragments

In the majority of instances a fragment is considered a sentence error, but in a handful of cases fragments are acceptable in written speech, as explained below.



Oh dear!




Close the door.


What now?

Where to?


To Smithtown.


Transitional Phrases:

One additional point.

Writers may deliberately use fragments to achieve a specific effect in their work. This technique is often used with dialogue that mimics informal speech.

Sample Usage

As mentioned above

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