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Better Grammar: Part II: Fragments with '-ing' and 'to'

Updated: Nov 23

Fragments with -ing and to represented by a toy turtle in pieces.

Introduction - better grammar

In a previous article I explained the first of four types of fragments – phrase fragments.

In this article I explain the second type: sentence fragments beginning with present participles, infinitives, or gerunds.

What are sentence fragments?

Sentence fragments may begin with present participles – the forms of verbs that end in -ing (running, speaking, believing).

It may also begin with an infinitive which is to plus the base form of the verb (to believe, to speak, to run). These fragments often appear close to another sentence that contains the subject.

Look at these examples in which the fragments are underlined.

-ing fragment

Talking to everyone he met. He wanted to get his important message heard by everyone.

to fragment

He got down on his knees and prayed. To make people believe him.

So how do we correct these fragmented sentences that begin with -ing or to?

We simply add the missing words or join the fragments to another sentence.

By joining sentences

Talking to everyone he met, he wanted to get his important message heard by everyone.

By adding words

He got down on his knees and prayed. He wanted to make people believe him.

But what if the subject of a sentence is a gerund (the -ing form of the verb)?

In this example, running (a gerund) is the subject of the sentence.

Correct: Running is a terrific form of exercise in urban areas.

A sentence fragment happens when the -ing word (the gerund) is part of an incomplete verb string or when the subject is mentioned in a previous sentence.

In this example the fragment is underlined.

Fragment: Many city dwellers get exercise. Running in parks and on footpaths.

And here it is corrected:

Many city dwellers get exercise. They get it by running in parks and on footpaths.


Many city dwellers get exercise by running in parks and on footpaths.


If your writing is full of these kinds of fragments, I hope this article has helped you recognise them and you are better able to correct them or avoid writing them in the first place. I hope it will result in better English grammar.

Remember, your writing will continue to improve with short lessons like these, so I hope you will look out for them in future.

Finally, if you enjoyed this article, please share it on your socials with your friends. It's easy: just copy the URL and post.

(c) Apex English Tutoring Dec 2020 - Updated Nov 2023

Man in long-sleeved striped shirt talking on mobile phone

About the Author

Michael Finemore, MA (Research) CQU, TEFL/TESOL Certificate, an experienced English Teacher, is the Owner-Operator of Apex English Tutoring.

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