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Fragments & Comma Splices




FRAGMENTS result when a group of words lacks an independent subject and/or verb: Joe, my pal. (no verb)

Walked three miles. (no subject)

To be a sentence, a group of words must contain a subject and a verb that are independent, that is, that can stand alone as a complete thought:

S-V. This is the symbol for an independent clause.

Birds sing.

Cows give milk.

The weather is pleasant.

Problems identifying independent subjects and verbs:

1. A phrase is not a sentence:

Prepositional phrase fragments:

On the other side of the swift-rushing river.

By the time of the game.

Verbal fragments:

Running the business. (participial phrase)

To earn a lot of money. (infinitive phrase)

2. A dependent clause is not a sentence:

After the party was over.

When the clock struck one.

COMMA SPLICES result when two independent clauses are spliced together with a comma.

Comma Splice Pattern: Sentence Patterns:

S-V, S-V. S-V . S-V.

S-V ; S-V.

You can join two independent clauses together with a comma if you use a coordinate conjunction:

The pattern is

S-V, and/or/but/nor/for/yet/so S-V.

Mother left early, but Father was late.

You can join a dependent clause (starts with words like where, when, because, etc.) to an independent clause with a comma:

When the rain stopped, we left the cabin.

You must use a semicolon (;) to join independent clauses with conjunctive adverbs. Using a comma [,] creates a comma splice.

The pattern is S-V ; however, S-V .

therefore, etc.

Conjunctive adverbs are usually followed by a comma because they are interrupters.

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