Sentence Fragments

Sentence fragments occur when a group of words that lacks a subject or a verb is punctuated as if it were a complete sentence.



A verb is missing.

Fragment: A small town in upstate New York.

Correct: A small town in upstate New York became famous for its wonderful maple syrup.


A subject is missing.

Fragment: Had been a shoe salesperson many years ago.

Correct: George had been a shoe salesperson many years ago.


Relative pronouns, subordinating conjunctions, or verbal phrases begin a clause, creating an incomplete thought.

Relative pronouns (that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever) introduce a clause that must be followed by a complete sentence. Don't punctuate clauses beginning with relative pronouns as complete sentences.

Fragment: The doctor who took out my tonsils.

Correct: The doctor who took out my tonsils went to the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Subordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs also introduce groups of words which must be attached to a complete sentence. If you punctuate such a group of words as a sentence, it will be a sentence fragment.

Fragment: Although many people do not attend college.

Correct: Although many people do not attend college, everyone needs to continue to learn throughout their lives.

Some subordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs include: after, if, as if, how, though, until, while, unless, although, before, since, where, assuming that, provided that, because, whenever, though, therefore, whereas, also, however, nevertheless, otherwise.

Verbals, which are verb forms that function as subjects, objects, or modifiers, can introduce verbal phrases which are fragments when punctuated as a sentence.

Fragment: Playing golf at the country club.

Correct: We were playing golf at the country club.