Introduction:

Fragments here refer to sentence fragments. Sentence fragments occur when phrases are punctuated as sentences even though they are not actually sentences. We often write them when we feel we have finished expressing a thought, and then decide to add to it - but add to it wrongly.[1] A sentence fragment tries its best to be a sentence, but it just can’t make it. It’s missing something. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb and must express a complete thought.

Definition:

A word group that lacks a subject or a verb and does not express a complete thought is a fragment.[2] A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence, which lacks some of the characristics of a compelte sentence.

Classification:

1. Dependent-word fragments

Some word groups that begin with a dependent word are fragments. Following is a list of common dependent words. Whenever you start a sentence with one of these words, you must be careful that a fragment does not result.
Dependent words
after
if, even if
when, whenever
although, although
in order that
where, wherever
as
since
whether
because
that,
so
that
which, whichever
before
unless
while
even though
until
who
how
what, whatever
whose
Examples:
After I cashed my paycheck. I treated myself to dinner.
A dependent statement that starts with a dependent word like after cannot stand alone. It depends on another statement to complete the thought. After I cashed my paycheck is a dependent statement. It leaves us hanging. We expect to find out, in the same sentence, what happend after the writer cashed the check. When a writer does not follow through and complete a thought, a fragment results.
To correct the fragment, simply follow through and complete the thought:
After I cashed my paycheck, I treated myself to dinner.
Ways to Correct Dependent-Word Fragment:
a. You can correct a dependent-word fragment by attaching it to the sentence that comes after it or the one before it:
After I cashed my paycheck, I treated myself to dinner. (The fragment has been attached to the sentence that comes after it.)
I will not leave the house until I hear from you. (The fargment has been attached to the sentence that comes before it.)
b.Another way to correct a dependent-word fragment is simply to eliminate the dependent word by rewriting the sentence:
I cashed my paycheck and then treated myself to dinner.
I will wait to here from you.
Extra:
Sometimes the dependent words who, that, which, or where appear not at the very start but neat the start of a word group. A fragment often results:
I drove slowly past the old brick house. The place where I grew up.
The place where I grew up is not in itself a complete thought. We want to know in the same statement where was the place the writer grew up. The fragment can be corrected by attaching it to the sentence that comes before it:
I drove slowly past the old brick house, the place where I grew up.

2. -ing and to fragments

When an -ing word appears at or near the start of a word group, a fragment may result. Such fragments often lack a subject and part of the verb.
Examples:
① Ellen walked all over the neighborhood yesterday. Trying to find her dog Bo. Several people claimed they had seen him only hours before.
② I telephoned the balloon store. It being the day before our wedding anniversary. I knew my wife would be surprised to receive a dozen heart-shaped balloons.
③ We sat back to watch the movie. Not expecting anything special. To our surprise, we clapped, cheered, and cried for the next two hours.
People sometimes write -ing fragments because they think that the subject of one sentence will work for the next word group as well. Thus, in item 1 the writer thinks that the subject Ellen in the opening sentence will also serve as the subject for Trying to find her dog Bo. But the subject must be in the same sentence.

3. Added-Detail Fragments

Added-detail fragments lack a subject and a verb. They often begin with one of the following words:
also
especially
except
For example
like
including
Such as
①Before a race, I eat starchy foods. Such as bread and spaghetti. The carbohydrates provide quick energy.
②Bob is taking a night course in auto mechanics. Also, one in plumbing. He wants to save money on household repairs.
③My son keeps several pets in his room. Including hamsters and mice.
People often write added-detail fragments for much the same reason they write -ing fragments. They think the subject and verb in one sentence will serve for the next word group. But the subject and verb must be in each word group.
Ways to correct Added-Detail Fragments
a. Attach the fragment to the complete thought that precedes it. Item 1 could read:"Before a race, I eat starchy foods such as bread and spaghetti."
b. Add a subject and a verb to the fragment to make it a complete sentence. Item 2 could read:"Bob is taking a night course in auto mechanics. Also, he is taking one in plumbing."
c. Insert the fragment within the preceding sentence. Item 3 could read:" My son keeps several pets, including hamsters and mice, in his room."

4. Missing-subject fragments

Examples:
①Alicia loved getting wedding presents. But hated writing thank-you notes.
②Mickey has orange soda and potato chips for breakfast. Then eats more junk food, like root beer and cookies, for lunch.
Ways to correct Missing-Subject Fragments.
a. Attach the fragment to the preceding sentence. Item 1 could read:"Alicia loved getting wedding presents but hated writing thank-you notes."
b. Add a subject(which can often be a pronoun standing for the subject in the preceding sentence). Item 2 could read:" Then he eats more junk food, like root beer and cookies, for lunch."

Exceptions to the rules:

Sentence fragments are acceptable in some types of writing, for stylistic or emphatic purposes. They are used in creative writing, poetry, advertising and journalism.

Examples:

"Accept everything about yourself- I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end. No apologies. No regrets." Clark Moustakas
"Because I'm worth it." L'oreal sosmetics slogan [3]

A Review: How to Check for sentence Fragments

1. Read your paper aloud from the last sentence to the first. You will be better able to see and hear whether each word group you read is a complete thought.
2. If you think a word group may be a fragment, ask yourself: Does this contain a subject and a verb and express a complete thought?
3. More specifically, be on the lookout for the most common fragments:
a. Dependent-word fragments (starting with words like after, because, since, when, and before)
b. -ing and to fragments (-ing and to at or near the start of a word group)
c. Added-Detail fragments (starting with words like for example, such as, also, and especially)
d. Missing-Subject fragments (a verb is present but not the subject)


Reference:

[1] http://www.mun.ca/writingcentre/docs/OnLineSentenceFragments.pdf
[2] John Langan, College Writing Skills with Readings:Sixth Edition(New York:McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2005).{most of the contents come from this book,espcailly the examples.}
[3] http://www.mun.ca/writingcentre/docs/OnLineSentenceFragments.pdf

Other links:


[1]http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/620/01/


[2]http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fragments.html


[3]http://armorgames.com/play/7259/fragments


[4]http://www.myenglishteacher.net/sentencefragments.html


[5]http://www.mun.ca/writingcentre/docs/OnLineSentenceFragments.pdf


[6]http://languagearts.pppst.com/sentencefragments.html