INCOMPLETE SENTENCE


A sentence expresses a complete thought. If the thought is interrupted by a period before it is completed, you have an incomplete sentence.

For example:

  1. After going to the basketball game.

  2. Ralph went to Estelle's house.
Actually, these two sentences should be one. Part 2 can stand alone as a sentence. It expresses a complete thought. But part 1 is a fragment. We don't know what happened after the game, and we don't even know who went to the game. The sentence doesn't express a complete thought.

The two parts can be joined together in several ways to make them into one sentence. Place a comma instead of a period after the word "game," and you have a correct sentence. Or, reverse the order of the two parts and you have:

Ralph went to Estelle's house after the basketball game.
Another example:
  1. Estelle stayed home.

  2. Because she didn't have the money to go to the game.
Part 1 is a complete sentence. Part two is incomplete. As with all incomplete sentences, part 2 must be taken out altogether, or reworded to be made into a complete sentence by itself, or added to the other sentence so the two become one.

If we take it out, we don't know the reason for Estelle's staying home.

If we make it a complete sentence by itself - She didn't have the money to go to the game - we end up with two short sentences. That is perfectly o.k., and actually, using the two short sentences together gives a more dramatic tone to the piece.

Estelle stayed home. She didn't have the money to go to the game.

If we join the two parts, we have a less dramatic sentence, but one that explains clearly by giving cause and effect close together:

Estelle stayed home because she didn't have the money to go to the game.

Or, as we did earlier, we can reverse the order of the two parts and get:

Because she didn't have the money to go to the game, Estelle stayed home.

In checking your own work for incomplete sentences, read your sentences aloud, one at a time, to be sure each one expresses a complete thought. Can each one stand-alone and make sense to a listener other than yourself?






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