Recognizing And Correcting Sentence Fragments

Sometimes groups of word look like sentences. However, these groups of words are not sentences because they cannot stand alone. We call them fragments because they are just pieces of sentences.

• Correct a fragment by supplying the missing subject and/or verb to turn it into an independent clause or by attaching the fragment to an independent clause.

Incorrect: Waiting for the bus.

This group of words has no subject and the word waiting, though it is a participle form of a verb, is not functioning as a verb within a clause.

Correct: Six boys stood waiting for the bus.

Add an independent clause, a subject and a verb.

Incorrect: While the boys waited for the bus.

When a subordinate conjunction such as while is placed in front of an independent clause, the clause becomes subordinate. "Sub" means "under", and a subordinate clause becomes a piece of a sentence that cannot stand alone. Other subordinate conjunctions include after, although, as, because, before, if, since, though, unless, until, when, where, while, etc.

Correct: While the boys waited for the bus, they worked on their homework. Add an independent clause.

• Sometimes fragments are hard to recognize in essays because they are actually pieces that belong to sentences that come before or after them. For example:

Incorrect: The boys waited for the bus. On a scarred old metal bench that advertised the latest movie.

The second group of words starts with a prepositional phrase. Other prepositions include about, after, against, around, behind, except, for, in, of, over, past, to, toward, with, etc.

Correct: The boys waited for the bus on a scarred old metal bench that advertised the latest movie.

Attach the phrase to the independent clause preceding it.

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