What is Sentence Fragments?

 In Learn English

A complete sentence is made up of sentence fragments.  By themselves, sentence fragments do not express complete thoughts, as they are missing important information that goes toward making the meaning clear.

Identifying a Sentence Fragment

A sentence fragment is defined as such if one of the following reasons applies:

  1. It is missing a subject.

A subject refers to who or what is being talked about.  If there is no answer to the question WHO or WHAT, your sentence is missing its subject and you only have a sentence fragment.

Jumped out the window.

Who jumped out the window? If the phrase does not answer the question, it is not a sentence but a fragment of a sentence.

The cat jumped out the window.

Who jumped out the window? The cat.

The ability to answer the question of who jumped out the window makes a sentence.


  1. It is missing a verb.

Sentence FragmentsThe cat.

What about the cat? The cat did what? The cat jumped (out the window). jumped=VERB


  1. It is missing a subject and a verb

Some sentence fragments contain neither a subject, or a verb, as in:

Out the window.

To change a sentence fragment to a complete sentence you need to add a subject (The cat), and a verb (jumped)

The cat jumped out the window.


  1. Dependent Clause

A dependent clause is a sentence fragment: If I drink hot water with lemon and honey.

That, if joined with an independent clause, such as: I feel much better.

Becomes a sentence: If I drink hot water with lemon and honey, I feel much better.


Understanding what a sentence fragment is missing helps you create a complete sentence. While sentence fragments are used in informal language and conversation, they are not sufficient for formal language.

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