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  Home > InfoWrite > Grammar > Fragments and Run-ons
 

InfoTrac College Edition

Fragments and Run-ons

Avoid writing FRAGMENTS and RUN-ONs

Fragments and run-ons are the most common sentence errors writers make.

FRAGMENTS

Fragments are incomplete sentences. Though used in informal writing and fiction, they should be avoided in college papers.

EX:   Tom works until midnight   complete sentence
    Tom working until midnight   fragment (incomplete verb)
    Works until midnight   fragment (subject missing)
    Because Tom works until midnight   fragment (incomplete thought)

REMEMBER: Sentences must express a complete thought and contain a subject and complete verb.

The term fragment is a bit misleading because it suggests a small item. But fragments can be of any length. In proofreading, donít skim your paper looking for short items. A sentence can consist of a single word:

Run!     (the subject You is implied in commands)

Fragments can be longer than a sentence:

Jamal studied for hours. (sentence)
While Jamal studied for hours. (fragment)

THE BEST TEST FOR FRAGMENTS IS TO READ YOUR PAPER ALOUD. DOES EACH SENTENCE EXPRESS A COMPLETE THOUGHT?

RUN-ONS

Run-ons are fused sentences or incorrectly joined compound sentences
Sentences or complete thoughts can be joined in two ways:

1) Link with semicolon [;]

2) Link with comma [,] & and, or, yet, but, so

EX:   I asked no one answered.   run-on
    I asked. No one answered.   OK (two sentences)
    I asked; no one answered.   OK (sentences joined with semicolon)
    I asked, but no one answered.   OK (sentences linked with comma/but)

Run-on sentences are easy to write, especially when you are writing quickly.

REPAIRING RUN-ONS

  1. Identify possible run-ons by reading the sentence aloud. Can you draw a line through it any point to create two or more complete sentences?

    EX:

    Jamal went to medical school, and his sister went to law school.

    Jamal went to medical school/, and his sister went to law school.


  2. Check to see if the two or more separate sentences are properly connected. Where you draw the line you should see a semicolon [;] or a comma [,] with and, or, yet, but, so.

  3. If the sentence is incorrectly punctuated, read the sentence aloud. Should these two separate elements be connected? Should they be simply linked with a semicolon, or would a word like "and" or "but" better represent the relationship between ideas?

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From The Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark Connelly.