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Kristin Fracchia

ACT English: Sentence Fragments

Sentence fragments are like fish without gills, birds without feathers, sneakers without shoelaces. They just can’t be themselves. They are incomplete.

Here are a few examples:

Biking through the wilderness.

The great wizard of the west.

Without a dream to hold on to.

For example, chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Sentence fragments are usually missing either a subject or a verb (and sometimes both).


To fix a sentence fragment, we need to add the missing element(s):

My girlfriend is biking through the wilderness.

The great wizard of the west broke the spell.

I am like a drifter without a dream to hold on to.

For example, chocolate-dipped strawberries are her favorite breakfast.

On the ACT, you want to particularly watch out for gerunds (-ing words).

Example: Finishing his lab experiment before the rest of the class, then deciding to
leave early. ← Sentence Fragment

The Fix: Finishing his lab experiment before the rest of the cass, he decided to leave early. ← add a subject and change the verb form.

Sometimes gerunds can make it look like you have a complete sentence, but a gerund does not act alone as a verb; it needs a helping verb (such as “She is running.”).

You also want to watch out for sneaky sentence fragments that seem to be connected to the previous sentence, but can’t grammatically stand along.

Example: She was a wonderful professor. The most wonderful professor ← Sentence Fragment

The Fix: She was a wonderful professor. In fact, she was the most wonderful professor. ← add a subject “she”.

Sentence fragments pretend to be sentences, but they are lacking all of the elements of an independent clause. By turning them into independent clauses (with subjects and verbs) or attaching them to an independent clause, all can be mended.


About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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