In oral communication, it is quite normal to speak in fragments. This is especially true for informal conversations. While I have nothing against that, it is another matter altogether when it comes to formal speech and writing. Actually, even if you’re writing informally for your blog or web site, sentence fragments should be a no no.
What are sentence fragments anyway?
I like OWL‘s simple definition:
Fragments are incomplete sentences. Usually, fragments are pieces of sentences that have become disconnected from the main clause. One of the easiest ways to correct them is to remove the period between the fragment and the main clause. Other kinds of punctuation may be needed for the newly combined sentence.
Go on Facebook or Twitter, and you will definitely not have a difficult time finding perfect examples of sentence fragments.
Going to the pub!
A weekend of relaxation.
As I said earlier, in some cases, these fragments may be acceptable. That does not mean they are proper, though.
There are different ways to create sentence fragments. One would be to miss out on the subject. The first two examples above belong to this category. In order to fix the fragment, simply add a subject!
I am leaving town.
We are going to the pub.
Another situation is when the main verb goes missing. The last example above can be fixed by rewriting it.
I am having a weekend of relaxation.
The main thing to remember is that your sentences ought to be complete. It is a no brainer, really, but when you’re churning out content in a short span of time, it is very easy to lapse into informal speech involving sentence fragments.
Photo credits: Horia Varlan
I believe that William Zinsser wrote in his book On Writing Well that sentence fragments can be used in certain instances for something like a dramatic effect. I do agree that people should try to avoid fragments all together, though.
I do my best to make sure my sentences are complete.
Derek Thompson says
I think context is everything so it largely depends on your audience, your ‘voice’ for the piece and what was stated in the brief.