- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial





Oh, No! Not Another Fragment!




"After the girl went to school. But seven white geese showed up."

Fragments is something an instructor hates to see in essay writing. What is a fragment? A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence that cannot stand by itself. It often is a pendent clause without the independent clause. It fails to give a complete thought.

Fragment Sentence

Most fragments are only pieces of a sentence that has been disconnected from the main clause. Take a look at these examples and see how they might be corrected:

I need to get more sleep. But my employer gives me too many late hours. When the boy ran the race. He fell and sprained his ankle.

The first sentence needs to change the period to a comma and add the second fragment connected.

I need to get more sleep, but my employer gives me too many late hours.

The second fragment needs the period changed to a comma and then add the second sentence.

When the boy ran the race, he fell and sprained his ankle.

Some fragments lack a subject and a verb called an incomplete main clause. Look at these examples:

A hat with feathers.
A great set of tires.

Neither of these two examples have a verb telling why the words are important. Add a few words to these to make a complete sentence.

The girl wore a hat with feathers or a hat with feathers covered the fence post.
The student bought a great set of tires or A great set of tires was bought by the auctioneer.

The fragments were direct objects, but they lacked the verb needed to make them complete sentences. Often fragments are mixed prepositional phrases with predicates. These can be changed easily to make complete sentences. Transitions often can be dropped to make a complete sentence or need punctuation to make it clear.

When the ball was thrown. For doing extra credit for a friend Jennifer was suspended.

If the transition "when" was removed, the sentence would be whole. The ball was thrown. The next example could be changed by using a comma.

For doing extra credit for a friend, Jennifer was suspended.

Often the best way to find fragments is to read the essay out loud. Listen to each word. Look at this example:

When Jennifer ran home. She slipped on some ice. A friend saw the accident and called for help. After a few hours. Jennifer was seen by the physician. He told her that her ankle was sprained. When she got home. She put some ice on her ankle.

Reading the example out loud will help to find fragments. There are three fragments in the example:

When Jennifer ran home. After a few hours. When she got home.

These can be changed as follows:

When Jennifer ran home, she slipped on some ice. A friend saw the accident and called for help. After a few hours, Jennifer was seen by the physician. He told her that her ankle was sprained. When she got home, she put some ice on her ankle.

Most fragments are easy to fix and can be found by reading the essay out loud. Remember most fragments occur after or before the main clause.