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Better Grammar: Part 2: Fragments with '-ing' and 'to'

Updated: Mar 10

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

These are sentence fragments that begin with present participles, infinitives, or gerunds.

What are sentence fragments?

Sentence fragments may begin with present participles.

These are 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 I've underlined the fragments.

'-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.

How do we correct these fragmented sentences that begin with

'-ing' or 'to'?

All we do is add the missing words


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.

What about gerunds?

So 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 we mention the subject 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 is the correct form:

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.

Your turn:

Fix the fragments in these:

The crowd was very noisy. Yelling and screaming all through the match.

Tom rode his bike everywhere. To the park, to his friend's house, and to school.


Is your writing full of these kinds of fragments?

This article has helped you recognise them.

Now, you are better able to correct them or avoid writing them in the first place.

I hope it will result in your sentences using better English grammar

Further Reading

Remember, your writing will continue to improve with short lessons like these, and you can read more articles about grammar here.

Having good grammar should be an essential skill to getting great English. Read this article to learn why having good grammar is very important.

© Apex English Tutoring Dec 2020 - Updated January 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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