Sentence Structure: Fragments

     A sentence fragment is only part of a sentence that is set off
as if it were a complete sentence by an initial capital letter and
a final period or other end punctuation.  However, unlike a
complete sentence, a sentence fragment lacks a subject, verb,
and/or complete verb, or it is a dependent clause not attached to
an independent clause.

I. Missing Subject Fragment

A sentence without a subject-- Example: Closed the door. What to do: Add a subject Correction: The girl closed the door. *Note: If you are expressing a command, you do not need a subject. This is called an imperative sentence. Example: Don't leave the room! (You is the silent subject.)

II. Missing Verb or Incomplete Verb Fragment

Missing Verb: A sentence without a finite verb-- Example: The assembly person in our district. What to do: Find a finite verb Correction: The assembly person in our district works diligently. Note: A finite verb is capable of making an assertion without the aid of a helping verb; in addition, it changes form to show the difference in present, past, and future time. Verbals such as working and to work do not change and are not finite verbs. Incomplete Verb: An -ing verb (present participle) in the place of a finite verb without a helping verb Helping Verbs: To be: am, is, are, were, was Example: The statue standing by the doorway. What to do: Add a helping verb Correction: The statue is standing by the doorway. or Incomplete Verb: A past participle (-d/-ed/-t/n) used in a passive verb form without a helping verb. Example: The statue located by the door. What to do: Add a helping verb Correction: The statue is located by the door. Note: Since the statue cannot locate itself, the verb form must be passive, indicating someone other than the subject of the sentence (the statue) placed it by the door. Passive voice is formed by using the helping verb--to be--plus the participle. Some verbs are irregular and take the-t-or-n-form. Example: She caught by the authorities. What to do: Add a helping verb Correction: She was caught by the authorities. *For more information on passive verb form see Active and Passive Verb form handout.

III. Dependent Clause Fragment

A main or independent clause can stand alone as a sentence: She believed that she would pass the test. A dependent or subordinate clause is like a main clause in that it must have a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone as a sentence because it begins with a subordinating word such as if, when, because, since, who, that, after, or before. Subordinating words express particular relationships between the clauses they introduce and the main clauses to which they are attached. Example: After Maria bought the biology book. What to do: Add an independent clause that finishes the thought Correction: After Maria bought the biology book, she began studying for her exam. *In this example, the subordinating conjunction, after, indicates a time relationship between the two clauses. There are two types of subordinating words: subordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns. Subordinating conjunctions always come at the beginning of subordinate clauses. Common Subordinating Conjunctions: after, although, as, as if, as long as, as though, because, before, even if, even though, if, if only, in order that, now that, once, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, while Example: If it doesn't rain tonight, we will go to the park. Relative pronouns link one clause with another; however, they usually act as subjects or objects in their own clauses and are not necessarily positioned at the beginning of clauses. Relative pronouns: which, that, what, whatever, who (whose, whom), whoever (whomever) Example: My uncle who lives in my house is getting married and moving out.

Adjective, Adverb, and Noun Clauses

All subordinate clauses function as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns and are described as adjective, adverb, or noun clauses according to their use in a particular sentence. Adjective clauses modify nouns and pronouns, providing necessary or helpful information about them. These clauses usually begin with relative pronouns, but a few begin with when or where (standing for in which, on which, or at which). Example: Diana is the girl who always get to class early. (modifies girl) Example: There comes a time when each of us must work. (modifies time) Adverb clauses modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and whole groups of words. They usually tell how, why, when, where, under what conditions, or with what result. They always begin with subordinating conjunctions. Example: Elaine is nicer when she is talking on the phone. (modifies nicer) Example: She responded as quickly as she could. (modifies quickly) Noun clauses function as subjects, objects, and complements in sentences. They begin either with relative pronouns or with the words when, where, whether, why, and how. Unlike adjective and adverb clauses, noun clauses replace a word (a noun) within a main clause; therefore, they can be difficult to identify. Subject) Example: The lecture pleased the audience. Example: What the lecturer said pleased the audience. (The noun clause replaces `The lecture' as the sentence subject. Object) Example: Everyone knows what a panther is. (object of knows)


If the word group begins with how, who, whom, whose, which, where, when, what, or why introducing a question, it can stand alone as a complete sentence.
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