Fragments and Run-on Sentences

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1 Academic Support Center Writing Center Fragments and Run-on Sentences Fragment Refer to The LB Brief Handbook 5 th edition, pgs A fragment occurs when one or more of the key elements of a sentence is missing: subject, verb, or complete idea. It is also known as an incomplete sentence. A fragment fails to be a sentence because it cannot stand by itself. It does not contain even one independent clause; therefore, the sentence is incomplete. Examples of sentence fragments: Because we left the concert early. This pair of shoes too tight. Since spring came early. One of the ways to determine whether a sentence is a fragment or complete is to put the words "I believe that" in front of the sentence or fragment that is written. If it makes sense and is a complete thought, it is a sentence. If the thought doesn't sound right or is incomplete, then it is a fragment. Ways to Correct Fragments: 1. If the fragment gives information that applies to another sentence in the paragraph, join the fragment with it. Because we left the concert early. We missed the grand finale. Because we left the concert early, we missed the grand finale. 2. Add missing elements or change the form of existing words to make a complete sentence. This pair of shoes too tight. This pair of shoes fits too tightly.

2 3. Delete words that make the fragment a dependent clause. Since spring came early. Spring came early. 4. Add more words to change the fragment into a complete sentence. Since spring came early. Since spring came early, the grass grew and I had to mow. Run-on Refer to The LB Brief Handbook 5 th edition, pgs A run-on or fused sentence incorrectly joins two independent clauses (underlined) with no punctuation; consequently, the reader doesn t know where one thought ends and another begins, as in the following examples: Because we left the concert early we missed the grand finale. This pair of shoes fits too tightly my feet hurt. Since spring came early the grass grew I had to mow. A run-on sentence has at least two parts that can each stand by itself (in other words, two independent clauses), but the two parts have been smooshed together instead of being properly connected. It is important to realize that the length of a sentence really has nothing to do with whether a sentence is a run-on or not; being a run-on is a structural flaw that can plague even a very short sentence: The sun is high, put on some sunblock. An extremely long sentence, on the other hand, might be a "run-off-at-the-mouth" sentence, but it can be otherwise sound, structurally. In other words, the sentence runs on and on and on without an end. Because we left the concert early we missed the grand finale and I was mad because I missed the big event when my friends wanted to leave early so they could party at the new bar in town. Run-on sentences happen typically under the following circumstances: 1. When an independent clause gives an order or directive based on what was said in the prior independent clause: This next chapter has a lot of difficult information in it, you should start studying right away.

3 (To correct this sentence, we could put a period where that comma is and start a new sentence. A semicolon might also work there.) This next chapter has a lot of difficult information in it. You should start studying right away. This next chapter has a lot of difficult information in it; you should start studying right away. 2. When two independent clauses are connected by a transitional expression (conjunctive adverb) such as however, moreover, nevertheless. Mr. Nguyen has sent his four children to ivy-league colleges, however, he has sacrificed his health working day and night in that dusty bakery. (Again, where that first comma appears, we could have used either a period and started a new sentence or used a semicolon.) Mr. Nguyen has sent his four children to ivy-league colleges. However, he has sacrificed his health working day and night in that dusty bakery. Mr. Nguyen has sent his four children to ivy-league colleges; however, he has sacrificed his health working day and night in that dusty bakery. 3. When the second of two independent clauses contains a pronoun that connects it to the first independent clause. This computer doesn't make sense to me, it came without a manual. (Although these two clauses are quite brief, and the ideas are closely related, this is a run-on sentence. We need a period where that comma now stands.) This computer doesn't make sense to me. It came without a manual. Another example: Most of those computers in the Learning Assistance Center are broken already, this proves my point about American computer manufacturers. (Again, two nicely related clauses, incorrectly connected a run-on. Use a period to cure this sentence.)

4 Most of those computers in the Learning Assistance Center are broken already. This proves my point about American computer manufacturers. Ways to Correct Run-ons: Original run-ons: This pair of shoes fits too tightly my feet hurt. Because we left the concert early we missed the grand finale. Since spring came early the grass grew I had to mow. The sun is high, put on some sunblock. 1. Make two or three separate sentences by using a period. This pair of shoes fits too tightly. My feet hurt. We left the concert early. We missed the grand finale. Spring came early. The grass grew. I had to mow. The sun is high. Put on some sunblock. 2. Use a coordinating conjunction FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) and a comma if needed. This pair of shoes fits too tightly, and my feet hurt. We left the concert early, so we missed the grand finale. Spring came early, the grass grew, and I had to mow. The sun is high, so put on some sunblock. 3. Use a subordinating conjunction (because, although, unless, when, if, since ) and/or restructure the sentence. Because we left the concert early, we missed the grand finale. We missed the grand finale because we left the concert early. Since this pair of shoes fits too tightly, my feet hurt. My feet hurt since this pair of shoes fit too tightly. Since spring came early, the grass grew, and I had to mow. The grass grew, and I had to mow since spring came early. Because the sun is high, put on some sunblock. Put on some sunblock because the sun is high.

5 4. Use a semicolon and conjunctive adverb THINTIC (therefore, however, indeed, nevertheless, in fact, consequently). Spring came early; therefore, I had to mow the grass because it grew quickly. This pair of shoes fit tightly; consequently, my feet hurt. 5. Place periods at the end of obvious complete clauses and other correct punctuation where short sentences need to be combined. Original run-on: Because we left the concert early we missed the grand finale and I was mad because I missed the big event when my friends wanted to leave early so they could party at the new bar in town. Because we left the concert early, we missed the grand finale. Therefore, I was angry that I missed the big event because my friends wanted to leave early. They wanted to leave so they could party at the new bar in town. Created by Austin Peay State University, 3 April 2012; revised 13 February 2015

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