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Sentence Fragments


Identifying Sentence Fragments

1. Look for a subject. Is there a noun or a pronoun that is performing some action, or possessing something, or being something?
2. Look for a verb. Is the subject doing something, having something, or being something in the sentence?
3. Ensure that the word group is not a dependent clause. A dependent clause contains a noun and a verb but begins with a word that creates dependence, such as because, when, which, or that. Such words are called subordinating conjunctions or relative pronouns.

Examples of subordinating conjunctions :

after
if
although
because
before
unless
when

Examples of relative pronouns:

that
which
who
whom
whose

Examples of dependent clauses:

Which cannot be understood
When winter comes
Because he didn't call

Notice that the above examples leave the reader with a question. What cannot be understood? What happens when winter comes? A good way to spot dependent clauses, and sentence fragments in general, is to ensure that you can understand what is happening in the sentence, and that you are not left with questions.

Examples:

The red car. [Leaves you asking, "What about the red car?"]
Took my jacket. [Leaves the reader asking, "Who took your jacket?"]

Note: In imperative (command) sentences, the subject is usually "you," and is not written or spoken. This subject is called an "understood" subject. For example, if a writer were asking someone for a drink, the writer might say, "Go get me a soda." It would be awkward to say, "You go get me a soda," or, in another example, "You, grab your purse and you do not forget your jacket."

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