Sentence Fragments

We all want our writing to contain well formed sentences that are free of mistakes; however, even experienced writers make mistakes from time to time. One of the most common mistakes that writers make is known as a sentence fragment. We often speak in fragments and use them in short answers to questions, but our writing should be free of fragments if we want our meaning to be clear.

Sentence fragments are broken pieces of a sentence and can occur for many reasons: no subject, no object, no verb, or an incomplete thought. Look at the following incomplete sentences. Why are they incomplete?

1. I love.

2. Drove to Florida.

3. In the morning when I get up.

Number 1 doesn't have an object. Love is a transitive verb and as such must have an object.

I love something.

Number 2 doesn't have a subject. To fix number 2 simply begin the sentence with a subject (a noun or a pronoun).

He drove to Florida.

Number 3 is an incomplete thought. It begins with an dependent clause but does not have the independent clause which is necassary to complete the thought.

This is probably the hardest fragment error to detect because there is a subject, and it appears as though you can change the verb's tense; however, it leaves the reader wondering what happens next.

To fix number 3, add a dependent clause that completes the thought.

In the morning when I get up, I have a fresh cup of coffee.