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Grad. Studies Home

Eliminating Fragments

What is a fragment?

A fragment is a group of words that look like a sentence (that is, they start with a capital letter and end with a period or a semicolon) but that don't really do the job of a sentence. 

To be a complete sentence, a group of words must have at least

one subject 

one verb, and

express a completed idea.

What causes fragments?

Fragments often occur because

  • the writer uses a semicolon or a period--which stops a sentence completely-- rather than using a comma, [←like this one ] which tells the reader to pause but then continue the thought. 

Example: 

I always try to edit my writing carefully, looking for typical problems.  Such as sentence fragments and there/their kinds of errors

The highlighted words above are just a fragment, not a complete sentence. They lack a subject and verb and so don't make sense by themselves.

How can I check for fragments?
Here's one way to check words that you think might be a fragment.  Put the words "It's obvious that" in front of them and see if the sentence makes sense. 
"It's obvious that such as sentence fragments and there/their kinds of errors."

Doesn't make a clear statement, does it?  That's a sure sign those words were a fragment, not a complete sentence.

How do I fix fragments?

The easiest way to correct fragments is to replace the punctuation that caused the fragment (period or semicolon) with a comma: 

I always try to edit my writing carefully, looking for typical problems, such as sentence fragments and there/their kinds of errors.

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