Cleveland State University

The Writing Center

Checking for Sentence Completeness

The Writing Center

1. Locate a verb.

Every sentence has a verb. As you look for the sentence verb, disqualify verbals:

verb forms ending in -ing: Eugene laughing to himself.verb forms ending in -ed: A suspected terrorist

verb forms beginning with to: To visit the country

Once you have located what you think is the sentence verb, see if you can change its ending by placing the pronouns I and she before it and by making it refer to both a past event and a present event. If the word changes form, it is a verb.

2. Locate the subject of the verb.

Every verb in a sentence has a subject. Ask who or what makes the assertion or does the action implied by the verb; the answer will be the subject of the verb.

3. Check for subordinate conjunctions and relative pronouns.

Eliminate Fragments from Your Writing

1. Revise dependent clauses set off as sentences.

Convert the dependent clause to an independent clause:

Fragment: Although computers may be revolutionizing the world.

Revised: Computers may be revolutionizing the world.

Join the dependent clause to a new sentence.

Fragment: Although computers may be everywhere.

Revised: Although computers may be everywhere, relatively few people understand how they function.

2. Revise phrases set off as sentences.

Many phrases—verbal, prepositional, absolute, and appositive—cannot stand alone as a sentence.

Fragment: After years of drought.Revised: Years of drought can devastate a national economy.

Revised: After years of drought, a nation’s economy can be devastated.

3. Revise repeating structures or compound predicates set off as sentences.

Repeating elements and compound predicates cannot stand alone. Incorporate such structures into an existing sentence or add words to construct a new sentence.

Fragment: College sports has long been conducted as a business. A profitable business. Revised: College sports has long been conducted as a business—a profitable business.Fragment: Some coaches achieve legendary status on campus. And are paid legendary salaries.

Revised: Some coaches achieve legendary status on campus and are paid legendary salaries.

Sample Sentence Fragments

Fragment: His arguing a long and tiresome case without any sensitivity to his readers.

Revised: He was arguing a long and tiresome case without any sensitivity to his readers.

Fragment: The calculated, highly dangerous risk.

Revised: Susan calculated the highly dangerous risk.

Fragment: A series of revolutionary reforms.

Revised: Congress legislated revolutionary reforms.

Fragment: To appreciate the alternative.

Revised: Frank failed to appreciate the alternative.

Fragment: Separated visible light into a spectrum of colors.

Revised: Isaac Newton separated visible light into a spectrum of colors.

Fragment: First Attempted an analysis of the short story.

Revised: Edgar Allen Poe first attempted an analysis of the short story.

Fragment: Though people may have a personality disorder.

Revised: People may have a personality disorder.

Revised: Though people may have a personality disorder, they may see their behavior as normal.

Fragment: People who have a personality disorder.

Revised: People have a personality disorder.

Revised: People who have a personality disorder see their behavior as acceptable.

Fragment: After Teddy Roosevelt was hit in the eye while boxing.Revised: Teddy Roosevelt was hit in the eye while boxing.Fragment: The president, who went blind in his left eye from the incident.Revised: The President went blind in his left eye from the incident.

Revised: The President, who went blind in his left eye from the incident, was not able to wholly return to his office for several weeks

 

Questions, comments, and other sundry things may be sent to CSUwriting@csuohio.edu

 

The Writing Center

 

engaged learning
Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
Provost Office
2121 Euclid Avenue
RT Library 124
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Rhodes Tower 124
1860 E. 22 Street
Office Hours
Mon - Thurs : 9:30 am-7:00 pm
Fri : 9:30 am-4:00 pm

For appointments call:
216.687.6981
Dr. Mary McDonald
216.687.6982
Fax: 216.687.6943
Dr. Mary McDonald, Director


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