Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > The Reference Room > Grammar


Thread Tools
Old 09-01-2008, 02:12 PM
Devon's Avatar
Devon (Offline)
Guard Dog and Playful Pup
Senior Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: In the ether of my imagination
Posts: 10,834
Thanks: 904
Thanks 1,696
Default Fragments


These are dependent clauses that can't normally stand on their own.

During the show's premiere is a fragment. Who's doing what during the show's premiere? You can complete the thought by joining it to a sentence containing a subject: During the show's premiere, the man in the white coat stood up to play his kazoo.

Fragments can, however, be used for emphasis: He wouldn't fix his house. Not yet. Not until after the storm. But use them judiciously; too many fragments can make your writing feel stilted and look unprofessional.

(Expanded Version)

Sentences. That are not complete. But punctuated. As if they are. Are called sentence fragments.

Plainly put, a sentence fragment is part of a sentence that usually cannot stand on its own. Either it is a dependent clause, or it's not a clause at all. A clause, which must have a subject and a predicate, is dependent when it has words like "when" or "if" in front. Dependent clauses have to lean on another clause. In other words, a sentence fragment will either lack a noun, noun phrase, or a pronoun that denotes the doer of the action, or what's being said about the subject, which includes the verb and any modifiers that are needed.

Consider this complex sentence: During the show, Frankie sat up and began to yodel. Which part would become a sentence fragment if left to stand on its own? During the show, of course. It's incomplete; it lacks a certain element needed to be a complete sentence: the predicate. The other, Frankie sat up and began to yodel, is complete. So, written in a piece of prose as “During the show. Frankie sat up and began to yodel.”, one of them would be considered grammatically incorrect.

But sentence fragments are sometimes used for emphasis. Take our prior complex sentence, for example. Placed after the independent clause, the sentence fragment once considered grammatically incorrect would now be considered acceptable: Frankie sat up and began to yodel. During the show! The fragment is telling the reader where and when Frankie began to yodel, with emphasis on how inappropriate his yodeling was.

Yes, there are going to be times when a writer needs to write in sentence fragments. People think in fragments. People speak in fragments. With some exception, a formal straight narrative usually calls for complete sentences to convey a meaning or an idea, but during interior monologue and especially in speech, sentence fragments are allowed. So an After a while, he thought with with a shrug, or a “Hey you, with the stupid-looking face!” or even a simple, exclamatory, “No!” are all acceptable sentence fragments.

But woe to the writer who doesn't understand the difference between a sentence fragment used properly and one that is wandering alone, confused and misplaced, in one's work. Abused, sentence fragments can drown an otherwise coherent piece beneath a series of awkward, stilted sentences. Used to their best advantage, they can help a writer looking to vary the cadence of his piece, add emphasis where needed, or get a point across quickly.

So the sentence fragment need not be shunned, but rather learned about and embraced as a useful tool. Thus, such is the life of a sentence fragment. Simple. Short. To the point. The end.

Twenty-year-old Marisa discovers her life is all a lie:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Twisty mind candy:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by Devon; 03-12-2009 at 04:57 PM..
The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Devon For This Useful Post:
Atreus (06-07-2009), Azmacna (01-23-2015), Loz (06-07-2011), Mister Valance (03-27-2012), nitdx (08-09-2010), Ohasa (06-09-2015), Tuatha (03-25-2009)

  WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > The Reference Room > Grammar

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A Twilight Forest Daryl MacDonald Free Writing 3 03-01-2008 12:34 PM
Tip of the Day Perfect_Paradox Tips & Advice 58 02-20-2008 04:50 PM
Tip Entry Perfect_Paradox Tips & Advice 12 08-13-2006 06:18 AM
Identifying Subject and Predicate Burning Paper Tips & Advice 5 03-02-2006 01:54 PM

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:29 PM.

vBulletin, Copyright 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.