Basic sentence structure consists of a subject and a verb. All sentences must express a complete idea. Anything less makes a sentence a fragment. Sometimes it can be easy to write in fragments. People often will write in fragments in order to get the words out in a hurry or to make a point. However, when writing for the academic audience or writing a more formal piece, fragmentary sentences are not appropriate and should be corrected.

Determine if the sentence has a subject. A subject is usually a noun that indicates a person, place, thing or idea. Example: The students went to the rally. Students is the subject.

Determine if the sentence has a main verb. This usually will be an action verb, but it can also be forms of the verb "to be" such as am, was and were. Example: The students went to the rally. Went is the verb.

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Determine if the sentence expresses a complete thought. Example: Went to the rally. This does not express a complete thought because it does not tell who went to the rally. It needs a subject.

Determine if the fragment can be added on to the sentence before or after it as a dependent clause. Sometimes sentence fragments can be revised by making them part of another sentence by the addition of a comma. For instance, the fragment "Such as mountain bikes" can be added to the sentence, "He owned many pieces of sports equipment." Together it would read: He owned many pieces of sports equipment, such as mountain bikes.


  • All complete sentences must have a subject and a verb.

About the Author

Lynda Lampert began writing professionally in 2000 with the publishing of her romance novel, "My Lady Elizabeth." Her work has also appeared in the "Pittsburgh Tribune Review." Lampert obtained an associate's degree in nursing from Mercyhurst College Northeast.