A sentence fragment occurs when one or more of the following is true:
- there is no verb
- there is no subject
- the word group is part of a subordinate clause or phrase
A true sentence must contain at least one independent clause: a group of words with a subject and a verb that can stand alone. For example:
- We shopped at the mall all day. Laughing and talking the whole time.
The first part of the example shows a complete sentence:
- it contains a subject: “We”
- and a verb: “shopped”
However, the latter part of the example contains a verb, but no subject; therefore, we have a sentence fragment. To fix a sentence fragment, try to
- make it part of another sentence
- make it a sentence
To fix our example above, make the fragment a part of the sentence:
- We shopped at the mall all day, laughing and talking the whole time.
Or you could make the fragment its own sentence:
- We shopped at the mall all day. We were laughing and talking the whole time.
Be wary of lists; they cannot stand by themselves:
- I have three favorite foods. Pizza, tacos, and eggplant.
The latter half of the example is a fragment. Use a colon instead of the period to make it correct:
- I have three favorite foods: pizza, tacos, and eggplant.