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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Sentence fragments

 

What is a sentence fragment?

A sentence fragment is missing some of its parts. There are three main reasons why a sentence may be incomplete.

Image of a headless statue

1. Missing subject

Becoming extinct because of rising sea temperatures.

Revised

Phytoplankton could become extinct because of rising sea temperatures.

2. Missing verb

Significantly, one particular form of Western Australian finch.

Revised

Significantly, one particular form of Western Australian finch has decreased in numbers.

3. Incomplete thought

In a recent article about loss of habitat due to climate change.

Revised

In a recent article about loss of habitat due to climate change, Australian animals were shown to be particularly vulnerable.

Sentences beginning with words like so, as, because, who, which, that, are often incomplete.

Poor example

Climate change is threatening flora and fauna around the world. As at-risk species become less populous and eventually disappear from the planet. The food chains in which they existed may become unsustainable. For example, organisms such as phytoplankton are affected by rising sea temperatures these are essential food sources.  According to Parry (2010), make up 50 percent of carbon-based matter on the planet have been decreasing in numbers. The consequences of phytoplankton becoming extinct are of major concern.

Incomplete thought
Run-on
No subject

Climate change is threatening flora and fauna around the world. [Incomplete thought: As at-risk species become less populous and eventually disappear from the planet. The food chains in which they existed may become unsustainable.] [run-on: For example, organisms such as phytoplankton are affected by rising sea temperatures these are essential food sources.] [no subject: According to Parry (2010), make up 50 percent of carbon-based matter on the planet have been decreasing in numbers.] The consequences of phytoplankton becoming extinct are frightening.

Improved example

Climate change is threatening flora and fauna around the world. As at-risk species become less populous and eventually disappear from the planet, the food chains in which they existed may become unsustainable. For example, organisms such as phytoplankton are affected by rising sea temperatures. These are essential food sources. According to Parry (2010), phytoplankton make up 50 percent of carbon-based matter on the planet and have been decreasing in numbers. The consequences of phytoplankton becoming extinct are of major concern.

Joined the fragment 
Two sentences
Added subject

Climate change is threatening flora and fauna around the world. [joined the fragment: As at-risk species become less populous and eventually disappear from the planet, and food chains in which they existed may become unsustainable.] [two sentences: For example, organisms such as phytoplankton are affected by rising sea temperatures. These are essential food sources.] [added subject: According to Parry (2010), phytoplankton make up 50 percent of carbon-based matter on the planet have been decreasing in numbers.] The consequences of phytoplankton becoming extinct are frightening.