In Unit 1, you learned about the components of a complete sentence. Can you recall what they are? If not, this would be a good opportunity to review your notes. In the next two activities, you will learn more about constructing grammatical sentences. Read this article on sentence fragments and complete the practice activities, in which you identify both subjects and verbs that make a sentence a complete thought. Once you complete the practice activities, check your answers against the Answer Key.

Remember that a sentence must have three parts: a SUBJECT, a VERB, and a COMPLETE THOUGHT. If a group of words does not have all three, then it is a FRAGMENT. A sentence fragment is a piece of a sentence that is incorrectly used as though it were a complete sentence.


A. The following are fragments because they don't have subjects:

Almost missed the bus to Cabrillo. 

(Who "almost missed the bus"?)


Doesn't work anymore.

(Who or What "does not work anymore"?) 


To turn these fragments into complete sentences, we need to rewrite them so that each has a subject:

My sister almost missed the bus to Cabrillo.

Her alarm clock doesn't work anymore.


B. The following are fragments because they don't have verbs:

Mrs. Wong, while on the phone. 

(What did Mrs. Wong do?)


The cell phone.

(What about the phone?)


 To make these fragments complete sentences, we need to rewrite them so that each has a verb:

 Mrs. Wong, while on the phone, checked her appointment book.

 The cell phone is convenient.


C. The following are fragments because, while they each have a subject and a verb, they don't express complete thoughts:

Whenever Sally eats chocolate.

(What happens when Sally eats chocolate?) 


Because my car broke down.

(What happened because the car broke down?)


To make these fragments complete sentences, we have to rewrite each one so that it expresses a complete thought:

Whenever Sally eats chocolate, she breaks out in a rash.

I was late for work because my car broke down.


D. Sometimes fragments occur because the verb is incomplete. Some verb forms cannot be used alone: they must have helping verbs with them. In the following example, the verb "worrying" is not complete by itself; it needs a helping verb:

Fragment: Mr. Thomas worrying about his son.

Sentence: Mr. Thomas was worrying about his son.


E. Often fragments occur because the writer uses a period too soon. In that case, the information is divided into two parts that should be kept together as one sentence. The following fragments can be corrected by removing the period and changing capital letters to lower-case ones. (Sometimes you will need to use a comma in place of a period.)

Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese. Who used it for fireworks.

Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese, who used it for fireworks.


Practice I: In the following sentences, highlight all of the verbs and underline the subject doing the action of each verb. Note: Some sentences have more than one subject and/or verb.

  1. Carmen rides the bus to school.
  2. Brittany and her brothers work every day after school.
  3. Clarissa does not like Morley's new plaid pants. 
  4. In a big city, life is frantic and makes people irritable.
  5. Kim Lee, a good student, has learned a lot of English.
  6. Next week there will be a rainstorm, so we can't hold our garage sale.


Practice II: In the following paragraph, highlight all of the verbs and underline the subject doing the action of each verb.

Juanita Morales runs a successful neighborhood theater on a very small budget. She asks the community and her family for help. Performances take place in a small store that belongs to the city, so Juanita pays no rent. Tatiana, one of her friends, works in a copy center and prints all of the programs for free. Juanita's aunts and her mother help sell tickets. Her cousins and her sister make many of the costumes. Her uncle, who is a carpenter, builds the sets for the plays. The theater is very popular. There are performances every weekend: plays, poetry readings, and concerts. Each ticket costs only two dollars. The money goes to the performers. Juanita and her friends have lined up programs for the next three months. Many people in the neighborhood feel that the theater benefits the community.


Practice III: Rewrite the following fragments so that they are complete. Add a subject or verb, or complete the existing verb phrase.

  1. Always asking me to run errands for him.
  2. Jack crazy about Sophia.
  3. The substitute teacher's wheezing old car.
  4. Who always knows what he wants. 
  5. Lupe, who lives next door.


Practice IV: Rewrite the following passage and complete all of the fragments in it.

At this very moment. You are reading from the English practice exercises. The work may be difficult, time-consuming, and even tedious. Because grammar imposes order on our thinking. Studying the basics also helps us sort out and organize our ideas. Students who write well. Usually do well in courses throughout the curriculum. Because writing encourages us to think critically and helps us learn. From taking notes, summarizing text, writing essay exams, to writing research papers. Make us more confident students. Strong writing skills. The English practice exercises should be taken seriously. Because it gives you the solid foundation that you need for all your college writing. Keep up with the work in the English practice exercises and with the homework. To facilitate your learning and to master the material.

Source: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges,
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Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2021, 1:02 PM