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How to Fix Sentence Fragments

How to Teach Complete Sentences

Writing in Complete Sentences

Learning how to fix sentence fragments is challenging to writers of all levels. Inexperienced writers may write in sentence fragments because they do not understand what constitutes a complete thought or because they model their writing after their fragmented speech. Experienced writers get habituated to “memo-style,” dialogue (text messaging), or point-by point writing and struggle writing connected thoughts. Here are a few workable strategies to revise these errors in sentence structure. But first, let’s begin with what constitutes a complete sentence.

A Complete Sentence

  1. tells a complete thought.
  2. has both a subject and a predicate.
  3. has the voice drop down at the end of a statement and the voice go up at the end of a question (in English).

Sentence Fragments

Definition: A sentence fragment consists of  an incomplete thought, a sentence subject, or a sentence predicate and so is an incomplete sentence.

Sentence Fragment Examples:

After he went to work. (Incomplete Thought)

Going to school. (No Sentence Subject)

The young, attractive woman. (No Sentence Predicate)

The Three Types of Sentence Fragments and Their Fixes

1. After they ate dinner. (Incomplete Thought Starting with a Subordinating Conjunction)

The Fix

-Eliminate the subordinating conjunction.

Subordinating Conjunctions:

after, as, although, because, before, how, however, since, so, that, when, whenever, which, while, who, unless, until, when, whenever, whether, while

2. Running fast down the hall. (No Sentence Subject)

The Fix

-Add on a subject (person, place, thing, or idea), i.e. the “do-er” to act on the verb in the sentence. Change the verb form to fit with the subject.

3. Mainly, the passage of time. (No Sentence Predicate)

The Fix

-Add on a verb (physical or mental action or a state of being) to “do” the action of the “do-er,” i.e. the subject.

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