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Grammar Exercise 06: Fragments
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Sentence Problems

Looking Ahead...
Most sentence errors arise when sentences are incomplete. Common sentence errors are fragments and run-ons, including fused sentences and comma splices. Misplaced and dangling modifiers also give trouble. So does faulty parallel structure.

Fragments When a sentence is incomplete, the result usually is a sentence fragment.

A fragment can occur when a subject is missing, leaving only a predicate. This in turn leaves unanswered the question who? or what?

  • Determined by the impact on people.
    Here the reader is left asking, what is determined by the impact?
  • Was let go, despite 35 years of dedication.
    Here the reader is left asking, who was let go?

A fragment can also occur when a predicate is missing, leaving only a subject. This in turn leaves unanswered the question what about the subject?

  • Straight news stories, which begin with the theme.
    Here the reader is left wondering, what about straight news stories?

A third kind of fragment occurs when a subordinate conjunction (e.g., after, although, as, because, before, etc.) introduces a subject and predicate:

  • Although feature stories may save the key point for the end. (Although makes an otherwise independent clause dependent. Eliminate Although, and the sentence will be correct.)

TIP: To check for fragments, look for a

  • complete sentence ( subject + predicate )
  • subordinate conjunction before the subject and predicate.

Fragment Fix-Its

Once you discover a fragment, fix it (turn it into a complete sentence) by using one of the following methods:

  1. If the subject is missing, you can add one:
    Fragment: Sank on Dec. 7, 1941.
    Fix-it: The battleship USS Arizona sank on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.
    — or you can add a subject and the correct verb:
    Fragment: Having sunk on Dec. 7, 1941.
    Fix-it: The battleship USS Arizona was lost, having sunk on Dec. 7, 1941.
    — or you can join the fragment to an independent clause:
    Fragment: Which caused a major loss for the United States at the start of WW III.
    Fix-it: The battleship USS Arizona sank on Dec. 7, 1941, which caused a major loss for the United States at the start of WW II.
  2. If the predicate is missing, add one:
    Fragment: The USS Arizona, which sank on Dec. 7, 1941.
    Fix-it: The USS Arizona, which sank on Dec. 7, 1941,plunged the United States into World War II.
    Fragment: The sinking of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
    Fix-it: The United States plunged into World War II, with the sinking of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
  3. If the fragment is a dependent clause, either join it to an adjacent independent clause:
    Fragment: When the USS Arizona sank on Dec. 7, 1941.
    Fix-it: When the USS Arizona sank on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States wasplungedinto World War II.
    — or turn it into an independent clause:
    Fix-it: The USS Arizona sank on Dec. 7, 1941.

William F. Perkins, 73, Long-Time Lawyer, Dies


The following obituary contains some sentences that are complete, some that are fragments. Indicate which are complete and which are fragments.
(a) complete (b) fragment

1
William F. Perkins, 73, of 1105 Madison St., died last night at home following a heart attack.
A)complete
B)fragment
2
Practiced law in Freeport for more than 45 years and was with the firm of O'Connor & Perkins.
A)complete
B)fragment
3
He joined the firm after graduating from Harvard Law School where he was a member of the prestigious Law Review.
A)complete
B)fragment
4
Because his law course grades were in the upper 10 percent of the class.
A)complete
B)fragment
5
Perkins served as president of the state bar association from 1980 to 1994.
A)complete
B)fragment
6
And was chairman of the local chapter of the organization, then known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
A)complete
B)fragment
7
A local delegate for many years to the state Republican Party organization, Perkins was active in several GOP presidential campaigns.
A)complete
B)fragment
8
Was survived by his widow, Josephine Parker Perkins.
A)complete
B)fragment
9
Services will be held at Heavenly Rest Chapel Wednesday.
A)complete
B)fragment
10
At 10 a.m.
A)complete
B)fragment







Melvin Menchers News ReportingOnline Learning Center

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