Fragments and Fragmentary Responses

A sentence fragment is a group of words which sounds like a sentence but does not express a complete thought. Sometimes it has a subject or verb missing. Sometimes it is a phrase or subordinate clause instead of a complete sentence.

Sentence fragments are normally not only grammatically incorrect but also difficult to understand.

The one type of fragment which may be acceptable at least in conversation is a fragmentary response. This is a sentence fragment which answers a question or otherwise responds to a situation in such a way that its meaning is understood even though it is not a complete sentence.

Fragmentary responses should be avoided except in dialogue or very casual writing.

Example:
"Who was that woman with you last night?"

"Sandy."

(The response is not a complete sentence, but it is understood because it is responding to a specific question.)


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