Grammar 11 min read

Easiest Ways to fix a Sentence Fragment

Main Sentence Fragment Takeaways:

  • When a group of words doesn’t form a complete thought, that’s a sentence fragment.
  • Fragments are often missing a subject or verb.
  • Even though some fragments have punctuation, they are still incomplete sentences.
  • Since dependent clauses can’t stand on their own, they are a type of sentence fragment.
  • Since independent clauses are complete sentences, they are not fragments.
  • Watch out for participle phrases and appositives when you create sentences.
  • Easily fix a fragment by revising your words to include a missing subject or verb. Or, you can attach the fragment to an existing complete sentence.
Loves to take a nap every day.
Frank loves to take a nap every day.
After work Frank napping.
After work.
After work, Frank enjoys napping.

You can’t tell half a story without annoying someone. In the same way, nor can you write half a sentence. First, we’ll look at the sentence fragment definition and the types of fragments. Then, we’ll show you how to spot them with sentence fragment examples as well as the easiest ways to fix fragments fast.

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A man labeled sentence fragment is being left behind by two women labeled as verb and subject.
A sentence fragment occurs when your sentence lacks a subject, verb, or complete thought.

What is a Sentence Fragment?

A sentence fragment is a group of words that does not express a complete thought (“in the kitchen” verus “He is in the kitchen”). Even though they might contain punctuation and seem like a sentence, fragments are still not considered complete sentences. For example, fragments can be a phrase that is missing the subject (noun) or a verb. Or, they might be an incomplete thought. Therefore, fragments might be in the form of dependent/subordinate clauses.

📝A sentence fragment is a collection of words that does not form a complete sentence. It occurs when your sentence lacks a subject, verb, or complete thought.

What is a Fragment Missing?

A fragment is missing a subject or a verb. As a result, fragments fail to form a complete thought. For example, a missing-subject fragment is a group of words without a main subject (“ran for president” instead of “Carl ran for president“). Similarly, a missing-verb fragment is a group of words that lacks a verb (“Georgia on the shore” instead of “Georgia is on the shore“).

📝 Two Types of Fragments:

  1. Missing-subject fragment: a group of words without a subject
  2. Missing-verb fragment: a group of words without a verb

What is an Example of a Sentence Fragment and how do you fix it?

An example of a sentence fragment is “took Chris’ bike” because it doesn’t form a complete thought. When you say this, your audience is left wondering what you truly mean. What’s more, it’s missing a verb (fragments are often missing a subject or a verb). There are three main ways to fix a fragment by turning it into a complete sentence. First, try adding the missing subject or verb (Someone took Chris’ bike.). Next, try combining it with or attaching it to a complete sentence (We still aren’t sure who took Chris’ bike).

📝 How to Fix a Sentence Fragment:

  1. Add the missing subject or verb
  2. Combine it with a complete sentence
  3. Attach it to a complete sentence

Here are examples of a sentence fragment and how to fix it:

Ari work.
Ari stopped by the grocery store on his way home from work.
Because of school.
Because of school rules, I wasn’t able to watch your team practice before the big game.
Such as red or purple.
We associate colors such as red and purple with royalty.
Before bed Celine likes to.
Before bed, Celine likes to wash her face with warm water.
📝 You can identify a sentence fragment by looking for a missing subject or verb.

What are the Four types of Fragments?

There are actually more than four types of fragments. Types of sentence fragments include dependent or subordinate clause, participle phrase, infinitive, afterthought, lonely verb (missing-verb fragment), and appositive. All of these are types of fragments because they fail to express a complete thought despite containing punctuation, a subject, and a verb.

📝 Examples of Types of Sentence Fragments:

  • Lonely verb (missing-subject fragment)
  • Infinitive
  • Participle phrase
  • Dependent/subordinate clause
  • Appositive
  • Afterthought

Lonely Verb Fragmented Sentences

Lonely verb fragments have this name because they are a phrase without a subject. In other words, the subject is missing and as a result, the verb is alone. Since complete sentences express a complete thought as well as have a subject and a verb, missing-subject fragments can’t be complete sentences.

Makena spicy food.

How to fix it:

Makena doesn’t eat spicy food.

Participle Fragments

Usually, you can easily spot a participle phrase because they tend to begin with a word that ends in –ing (gerund) or –ed (participle). We consider these fragments because they don’t express a complete thought, either.

Carrying a pitcher of water .

How to fix it:

Her niece walked carefully into the dining room carrying a pitcher of water.

Dependent/Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are also called dependent clauses because they can’t stand on their own without an independent clause to give them meaning. Even though they contain a subject, a verb, and a subordinating conjunction, they are not considered complete sentences because they don’t express complete thoughts.

Since it was raining.

How to fix it:

Since it was raining, she decided not to walk to the park.

Appositive Fragments

These types of fragmented sentences rename the noun, or describe it using different words and characteristics. Because their main function is to help provide additional detail and clarity, they can’t stand on their own as a main or complete thought.

A woman who adores the ballet.

How to fix it:

Ms. Lagard, a woman who adores the ballet, will meet us at the theater.

Infinitive Fragments

This type of phrase begins with the infinitive form of a verb. Since all infinitives in English take the form to + infinitive verb (to think), infinitive phrases and fragments begin with the word to.

To run through an open field.

How to fix it:

To run through an open field is one of the most exhilarating feelings.

Afterthought Fragments

This type of incomplete sentence usually begins with a transition word like one of the following: for instance, for example, except, such as, like. They are not complete thoughts because they tend to add more detail to something the author said previously, or add something that the speaker forgot to include.

Karen can’t stand when people ignore her advice. Especially not when she takes the time to call you out personally.

How to fix it:

Karen can’t stand when people ignore her, and especially not when she takes the time to call you out personally.
A checklist to know if you have a sentence fragment.
Phrases are often considered fragments because they lack one or all the following: subject, verb, or complete thought.

Is a Sentence Fragment a Dependent Clause?

Many fragmented sentences are dependent clauses. A dependent clause is a clause that cannot function without an independent clause. An independent clause can stand alone.

Because he can’t handle the bus
Than her brother does
While grass keeps growing

The examples above are incomplete sentences because they need independent clauses. That’s why they are dependent clauses and sentence fragments.

How do you Know if a Sentence is a Fragment?

You know a sentence is a fragment when it doesn’t express a complete thought. Often, phrases are fragments because they don’t contain a subject or a verb. However, even if the fragmented sentence contains a subject and a verb, it can’t be a complete sentence if it doesn’t express a complete thought (the fragment “Kids cleaning downstairs” instead of the complete sentence “I think the kids are cleaning the floors downstairs“).

👀 How to Spot a Fragmented Sentence: If your sentence has one of the following, it may be a fragment.

  1. The verb is missing
  2. The subject is missing
  3. The sentence begins with a participle phrase
  4. There’s a dependent clause
  5. There’s an appositive

1. Check Your Verb

Does your sentence have a verb? If yes, is the verb the correct tense?

A sentence fragment often contains no verb. When a fragment does have a verb, the verb is often used incorrectly.

2. Identify Your Subject

Who or what is the subject of your sentence? Can your audience easily identify this subject, or is it implied?

A correctly formatted sentence needs a clear subject. Your readers should know what you’re referencing without searching for contextual clues.

3. Look for Participle Phrases

A sentence should not begin with a participle phrase. A participle phrase is a verb that ends in -ed or -ing.

Jumping across the driveway.

4. Watch out for Dependent Clauses

A dependent or subordinate clause cannot stand on its own. A sentence that begins with a subordinator, such as while or because, might be a fragment. You should also watch for sentences that begin with relative pronouns, such as when or that.

While they shop.
That idea.

5. Avoid Appositives

Appositives are noun phrases that follow a previous sentence. An appositive describes a noun or pronoun that was mentioned in an earlier conversation or paragraph.

The most handsome man at work.

Is Stop a Fragment?

Stop is not a sentence fragment. This might be confusing since sentence fragments are usually incomplete thoughts that are missing a subject or a verb; the command “stop” might seem like a verb without a subject. However, the subject is actually implied or understood, meaning it’s contained in the way we form the verb. Therefore, “stop” is not a fragment because it expresses a complete thought and an implied subject as well as contains a verb.

For example, imagine you are sitting on a train and there is a small boy in the seat behind you. The child keeps kicking your chair and disturbing you.

Then, you turn around and say, “Please stop.” It’s understood that you’re referring to the boy (subject) and requesting that he cease kicking (complete thought).

Is a Question a Fragment?

A question can be a fragment, but this isn’t always the case. A sentence fragment is a group of words that fails to express a complete thought. Often, this is because the phrase doesn’t contain a subject or verb. A fragment might look like a sentence because it contains punctuation like a question mark (?) or exclamation point (!). Even still, if it doesn’t express a complete thought, it’s a fragment (the fragment “By the door?” versus the complete sentence “Should I leave these by the door?“).

What is an Intentional Fragment?

An intentional fragment is a phrase the author deliberately chose not to complete notwithstanding the grammatical error. In other words, the author intended to write an incomplete sentence. Like all fragments, an intentional fragment is a group of words that doesn’t express a complete thought. Intentional fragments are a conscious (or intentional) stylistic choice rather than an accidental grammatical error.

You may see intentional fragments in creative writing like plays, novels, and poems. Or, in casual everyday conversations and informal writing like texts (or like this sentence and the last one 😉).

What Causes a Sentence Fragment?

A sentence fragment occurs when your thought is not complete. Your sentence may lack a verb, subject, or both. Many writers and readers think of verbs as action words. However, verbs can also join together other parts of a sentence. These verbs are called helping verbs.

If your sentence requires a helping verb, you must add one. Otherwise, your sentence is not a complete thought.

Edith was working on her homework.
Edith working on her homework.

What has a Subject and a Verb but is a Sentence Fragment?

Any sentence or phrase that fails to express a complete thought is a fragment sentence—even if the sentence contains a subject and a verb.

How do you fix a Sentence Fragment?

You can fix a sentence fragment by revising it or attaching it to an independent clause. Let’s take a look at how we can fix the sentence fragment below.

Sentence fragment: Than her sister ate

Whose sister are we referencing? Why was the word ‘than’ included?

Let’s revise this fragment and make it correct:

Ellie devoured 5 more pieces of candy than her sister ate.
Ellie only had a bite of macaroni, but it was still more than her sister ate.
Ellie’s sister ate more than her.

Sentence fragments occur commonly in blog posts and casual conversations. Unfortunately, they aren’t grammatically correct and can confuse others. Make sure your audience knows exactly what you mean by avoiding fragmented sentences.

That’s everything you need to know about the dreaded sentence fragment and how to recognize one when you see it.

How Well do you Know Sentence Fragments? Take our Quiz Below!

Sentence Fragment Question #1

Which of these is FALSE about a sentence fragment?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. Independent clauses can exist on their own, but sentence fragments can’t.

Sentence Fragments Question #2

Which of these is NOT a sentence fragment?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. This sentence expresses a complete thought.

Fragmented Sentence Question #3

Many sentence fragments are dependent clauses.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. A dependent clause is a clause that cannot function without an independent clause.

Sentence Fragments Question #4

Which of these tips can help correct sentence fragments?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. You could also look out for participle phrases and dependent clauses.

Sentence Fragment Question #5

Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. Other types of sentence fragments include dependent or subordinate clauses, lonely verbs (missing-verb fragments), and appositives.

Fragmented Sentence Question #6

“Stop” is a sentence fragment.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. “Stop” is not a fragment because it expresses a complete thought. It also has an implied subject and contains a verb.

Sentence Fragment Quiz Result
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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

Comments (2)
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    KINSLEY LEWIS (Student) March 05 at 4:52 pm GMT

    so helpful! Btw, i REALLY love your passages!

    • Avatar
      Rechelle Ann Fuertes March 10 at 1:09 pm GMT

      Hi Kinsley,

      We appreciate your positive response to our post. We hope that this article has answered some of your questions about sentence fragments. We also recommend that you read our article about run-on sentences here https://blog.inkforall.com/run-on-sentence. Again, don’t forget to try our quizzes. Thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

      Rechelle

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