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Using fragments wisely

Using fragments wisely

Author: Kathryn Reilly

    Introduce sentence fragments and when they are or are not appropriate with regard to text type and purpose. 


    Explain how to use fragments with purpose in order to improve writing style. 


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English writing style and who is confused about when sentence fragments are appropriate. It will explain how to use fragments wisely in creative writing.

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Sentence Fragment Background

What are sentence fragments?


Sentence fragments are incomplete, or fragmented sentences.  These sentences are missing either a subject or verb.


When are sentence fragments appropriate in writing? 

Authors may break the rules of writing and include sentence fragments for several purposes.  First, sentence framents may draw attention to an important word or concept.  Second, a sentence fragment may emphasize a character's emotion.  Third, sentence fragments create realistic dialogue between characters or interview transcript.  Fourth, sentence fragments may conceptually reinforce an author's idea.  Fifth, in academic writing (papers), sentence fragments may be used in the introduction as an attention getting technique. 

When are sentence fragments not appropriate in writing?

Generally speaking, sentence fragments should be used in fictional texts and not academic texts.  For example, it would be inappropriate to create sentence fragments in a research paper or lab report.  They may occasionally be used to gain the reader's attention in literary papers.  If the purpose of the text is to convey factual information to the reader, then sentence fragments would be inappropriate.  If the purpose of the text is more creative in nature, sentence fragments could be appropriate.

Source: Kathryn Reilly

Spotting Sentence Fragments

Can you spot the sentence fragments ?


How to Use Sentence Fragments Wisely when Writing

This PowerPoint reviews five appropriate uses of sentence fragments in writing, and provides examples.

Source: Kathryn Reilly