Complete Sentences vs. Fragments
Know what sentence fragments are? How about complete sentences? A sentence fragment is exactly what it sounds like-- a piece of a sentence. Sentence fragments are OK in casual conversation, but confusing in writing. Learn the difference between the two -- and when to use each -- with our classroom, homeschool, and after-school supplements. We have everything from practice worksheets and printable workbooks to online quizzes and games.
Students must understand that, while context can fill in missing pieces in casual speech, writing requires complete sentences to fully convey meaning. When the thought is not fully expressed, you end up with what is called a sentence fragment.
To be considered complete, a sentence must have three distinct components:
- Subject - The actor in the sentence
- Predicate - The action or verb
- A Complete Thought - The sentence must present a complete thought
A complete sentence, or independent clause, can vary greatly in length, as long as it meets the requirements above. A sentence can be only two words:
This sentence contains a subject (Tom), a verb (thought), and, while being only two words, represents a complete thought.
The vast majority of sentence fragments, or dependent clauses, occur when the words do not constitute a complete thought. To catch these, you must teach students to understand what subordinating conjunctions are. These words join two sentences, one independent clause and one dependent clause, to make a complete sentence. These words fall in one of several categories:
|Cause/Effect||Because, Since So that|
|Compare/Contrast||While, Whereas, Though|
|Relation||That, Which, Who|
|Time||After, Before, Since|
In order for your students to identify and correct sentence fragments, teach them to review their writings, ensuring all sentences contain a subject and a verb. Then, have them search for subordinating conjunctions to make sure that the dependent clause they’re attached to, has an independent clause attached.