Comma Use and Misuse: The Fragment

A fragment is literally a small, broken-off part of something. If you drop a pottery mug on a cement floor, you will get fragments. In writing, it means the same thing. A sentence fragment is a broken-off piece of meaning. Sometimes writers use fragments for emphasis. Which is fine. However, we just want to make sure you know the rule before you break it.

What is it?

A fragment is an incomplete sentence. It does not contain even one *independent clause. It is broken off, disconnected, and it leaves us feeling like we need more.

Why is it incorrect?

It does not contain a complete thought, which is confusing and disorienting for your reader.

What does it look like?

I need to buy a new car. Because the one I have right now is making strange noises.

With the ultimate goal of this website being to help you write well.

Although I would really like to help you move.

How can you fix it?

1) Delete the period:  I need to buy a new car because the one I have right now is making strange noises.

2) Remove the preposition (with): The ultimate goal of this website is to help you write well.

3) Remove the conjunction (although): I would really like to help you move.

4) Add an independent clause to the *dependent clause: Although I would really like to help you move, I just don’t have time right now. 

*An independent clause is a complete sentence. It has a subject and a verb and makes sense by itself.

*A dependent clause is not a complete sentence.  Its function is to add more information to an independent clause. It is like a small child: it cannot be left alone; it must have the supervision of an adult (an independent clause).

* For definitions of prepositions and conjunctions, please see our post on Parts of Speech