ACT English Grammar – Everything You Need to Know About Fragments

everything-you-need-to-know-about-fragments

https://mytoptiertutoring.com/act-english-grammar-rules-runons-and-comma-splices/ACT English Grammar – Everything About Fragments

You may think that of all the grammar concepts you will be tested on during the ACT English, the easiest one will be recognizing a proper sentence. However, you may be surprised to find out that your ability to recognize a sentence (vs. a fragment or a run-on) is one of the most commonly-tested rules because it can be very tricky?

The ACT tricks many unsuspecting students with seemingly easy concepts. Do you know what you need in order to have a complete sentence? Can you confidently tell the difference between a subordinate clause and an independent clause? Do you know how to use semicolons and what punctuation is necessary for conjunctive adverbs?

In a previous article, we will talked about what makes up a grammatically correct sentence and how prepositional phrases, appositives and relative clauses can make sentences confusing and difficult to understand. In this article, we will turn out attention  to recognizing fragments.

Test Yourself

ACT English Grammar – Everything About Fragments

Read the list of phrases below. Can you recognize which ones are complete sentences, which are fragments, and which are run-ons?

  1. My friend, Kate, collects sea shells on the beach.
  2. Kate, who is friendly and easy-going.
  3. After knowing Kate for 10 years, I met another friend, her name was Nicole.
  4. Nicole, who is more serious than Kate, does not like the beach.
  5. Although she didn’t like the beach, but she loved hiking in the mountains.
  6. Nicole, laughing at Kate’s joke.
  7. Kate would become excited.
  8. Because Kate wanted to spend all of her free time together, Nicole, who would want some privacy.
  9. At first, Kate didn’t understand her, soon learned to enjoy new experiences.

Answers: 1. Sentence; 2. Fragment; 3. Run-On; 4. Sentence; 5. Fragment; 6. Fragment; 7. Sentence; 8. Fragment; 9. Run-on.

What is a Fragment?

ACT English Grammar – Everything About Fragments

A fragment is an incomplete sentence.

There are 6 mistakes that can make a sentence into a fragment:

  • When a “sentence” lacks a subject
  • If a “sentence” lacks a verb
  • A “sentence” that has an -ing or a past tense -ed verb without a helping verb
  • When a “sentence” begins with a subordinating conjunction and has no main clause
  • If a “sentence” that adds details to the main clause, but is separated from it
  • A “sentence” that has a non-essential clause or prepositional phrase and incomplete main clause.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Sentence that Lacks a Subject

To recognize these fragments, ask who is doing the action.

You might notice that some of these examples have multiple issues. In that case, make sure to fix all of the errors in a sentence.

Incorrect examples:

Bought a ticket. Who bought a ticket? 

                        Wanted to read a best-selling novel. Who wanted to read? 

                        Thinking about the perfect gift. Who was thinking about a gift?

To fix these fragments, add a subject and make sure the verb is conjugated in proper form.

Correct examples:

Jason bought a ticket.

                        He wanted to read a best-selling novel. 

                        She was thinking about the perfect gift.

Sentence that Does Not Have a Verb

To recognize these fragments, ask what the subject of the sentence is doing. If you cannot answer this question, it’s probably because the sentence is missing a verb.

Incorrect Examples:

James, after studying for two months. What did he do?

                        Two pairs of jeans and three shirts. What about them?

                        On Sunday this week. What was on Sunday? 

To fix these fragments, you must add a verb to show action.

Correct Examples:

James, after studying for two months, passed an important exam. 

                        I packed two pairs of jeans and three shirts. 

                        On Sunday this week is the concert.

ACT English Grammar – Everything About Fragments

Sentences with -ing verb or non-past tense -ed verb that has no helping verb

Whenever you see an “-ing” verb, or an “-ed” verb that doesn’t describe the past tense, there must be a helping verb (e.g. was, has) with it or another verb somewhere else in the sentence. If there is not, then the sentence is a fragment.

Incorrect Examples:

The man driving in heavy traffic.

                        Jessica tired from her flight. 

                        The children watching cartoons.

To fix these fragments, add a helping verb or, if appropriate, change the verb to another form.

Correct Examples:

The man was driving in heavy traffic. OR The man drove in heavy traffic.

                        Jessica was tired from her flight. 

                        The children were watching cartoons. OR The children watched cartoons.

You can also fix this type of fragment by using the -ed or -ing word as an adjective (or participle) and adding another verb.

Correct Examples:

The man driving in heavy traffic listened to talk radio.

                        Jessica, tired from her flight, stayed at home.

                        The children watching cartoons laughed.

Dependent Clause Fragments

A dependent clause fragment is a sentence that has a subject and a properly conjugated verb but begins with a subordinating conjunction and is not attached to another main clause.

Some of the common subordinating conjunctions are: after, although, because, before, ever since, though, unless, until, while, whether, whereas, etc. If a sentence begins with one of these words, make sure it is attached to an independent clause. If it is not, the sentence is a fragment.

Incorrect Examples:

                        After he bought the ticket.

                        Because she had an early flight. 

                        Although the airline arrived late.

To fix these errors, connect each fragment to an independent clause.

Correct Examples:

                       After he bought the ticket, we entered the theater.

                        Because she had an early flight, she took a vacation day from work. 

                        Although the airline arrived late, we caught our connecting flight.

These fragments can also be fixed by removing the subordinating conjunction and making them independent clauses that can stand on their own.

Correct Examples:

He bought the ticket.

                        She had an early flight.

                        The airline arrived late.

Added Detail Fragments

 

To recognize this type of fragments, look for words like “such as,” “including,” and “for example” that start the sentence but explain something in the previous sentence. If this construction is not attached to an independent clause with a subject and a verb, then it’s a fragment.

Incorrect Examples:

He likes discovering new places. Such as old towns and ancient cities.

                        She likes to read a variety of books. For example, poetry and horror.

I know the difference between many ballroom dances, such as: cha-cha, samba, and jive.

To fix these fragments, add the detail fragment to the sentence it describes.  

Correct Examples:

He likes discovering new places, such as old towns and ancient cities. 

You can also turn the fragment into a complete sentence by adding a subject and a verb.

She likes to read a variety of books. For example, she enjoys both poetry and horror.

Make sure that anything that comes before a colon can stand on its own as a complete sentence.

I know the difference between many ballroom dances: cha-cha, samba, and jive.  

Non-essential clause, appositive, or prepositional phrase fragments

To recognize these fragments, physically cross out the non-essential clause, appositive, or preposition phrase. Check if you have a complete sentence left over. If not, you have a fragment.

Incorrect Examples:

Bella, my friend. à  Bella, my friend. MISSING VERB 

On my toes. à On my toes. MISSING SUBJECT AND VERB

The boy, who was the best athlete in class. à The boy, who was the best athlete in class. MISSING VERB

Daniel, my younger brother. à Daniel, my younger brother. MISSING VERB

 

Correct Examples:

Bella, my friend, went to the movies. à  Bella, my friend, went to the movies. CORRECT

I like to walk on my toes. à I like to walk on my toes. CORRECT

The boy, who was the best athlete in class, won an award. à The boy, who was the best athlete in class, won an award. CORRECT

Daniel, my younger brother, attends middle school. à Daniel, my younger brother, attends middle school. CORRECT

Next Steps

Now that you’ve mastered one of the trickiest concepts on ACT English, check out some of the others! Read our articles on how the ACT English will test your knowledge of pronoun agreement, punctuation, wordiness and redundancy.

Need to brush up on the basics? Read about the fundamentals of grammar in our parts of speech article.

If you want to watch a YouTube video related to this post, follow this link: https://youtu.be/PT3tjJacPuo

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