'Sentence Fragments' - and how to fix them



Ewan Schmidt, in his essay Every Day Carless argues for a downtown area free of motorized vehicles. He writes:


"The downtown core is very quiet each Friday. There are no car horns. No

screeching of the brakes. No yelling. No loud motor noises.

Because there are no cars. People can walk anywhere they want without

worrying about traffic. Even in the middle of the street."


The topic of this article is sentence fragments and the parts in bold in the paragraph above show several examples.


An incomplete sentence is a fragment. It lacks either a subject or verb, or it fails to express a complete thought.


Newspaper headlines and advertisements often contain fragments: ‘Economy a Mess’ or ‘weight loss overnight’.


When you are writing a text message you may save time by writing in fragments. And that is OK.


However, in more formal writing, such as college or university essays or job application letters, it is not acceptable to write fragments.


Here is another example:


Sentence: I am going to the movies tomorrow.

Fragment: At the new cinema complex in the city centre.


As you can see, the fragment is missing a verb and a subject.


So how to correct fragments?


You can do two things: add a verb and a subject or join the two sentences.


Let us join the sentences first.

I am going to the movies tomorrow at the new cinema complex in the city centre.


And by adding a verb and a subject:

There is a new cinema complex in the city centre

Or

I will be going to the new cinema complex in the city centre.


There are three other kinds of fragments and I will cover them in future articles.


These include:

‘dependent clause’ fragments

explanatory fragments

and

fragments that begin with gerunds.


So, for now, learn to recognise the first of these fragments and rewrite/rephrase them to improve your writing.


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