Sentence fragments are phrases that are missing a subject, a verb, or both. A complete sentence requires a subject and a predicate, or a verb clause, and expresses a complete thought. Without one of these parts, a sentence is considered incomplete. Sentence fragments are very common mistakes in writing and speaking.
A sentence fragment, also commonly known as an incomplete sentence, is a sentence that is missing a subject, a verb, or both.
For additional information, see The Writing Center, UNC
When people are trying to be brief, they might leave out important words that create fragments instead of sentences. Just because a sentence has a capital letter and punctuation, it doesn't mean it is a complete sentence.
Examples of Sentence Fragments:
Over the next hill!
A tree with wings!
On DVD December 19!
“Join or Die,” America's first political cartoon, is an example of a sentence fragment because it doesn’t have a subject. Who needs to join or else they die? The snake in the picture is also cut into fragments, illustrating the problem.
Incorrect: At school.
Correct: The students are at school.
Explanation: The incorrect example is a fragment because it is missing a subject and a verb. It doesn’t tell who the sentence is about or what they are doing. By adding a subject and a verb it makes the sentence more clear and it becomes a complete sentence.
Incorrect: Walked to the store.
Correct: James walked to the store.
Explanation: This is considered a sentence fragment, because it is missing a subject. By adding a person's name, it gives the sentence a subject. Who is the sentence about? The sentence is about James.
Incorrect: Whenever I go shopping.
Correct: Whenever I go shopping, I am happy.
Explanation: This phrase is a fragment because even though it contains a subject and a verb, there is no dependent clause. In order to make it a complete sentence, you must add a dependent clause that expresses a complete thought.
Hannah is going to do homework, when she gets home from school.
Julia Synan, Framingham State U, Class of 2022
Sarah Russo, Framingham State U, Class of 2022
Aiyana Florence, Framingham State U, Class of 2022
"Benjamin Franklin - Join or Die." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die.jpg.
“Sentence Fragments.” Quick and Dirty Tips, Grammar Girl, 24 Jan. 2018, www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/sentence-fragments.
“Sentence Fragments by Shmoop.” Youtube, uploaded by Shmoop, 3 August 2014.