1.2: Fragments and Run-Ons
Lesson 2: Sentence Structure
This lesson addresses sentence structure. Questions about sentence structure make up 30 percent of the questions in Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing test. Reviewing these skills will also help you prepare for the GED Essay, and it will improve your language skills in general. Topics included in this resource are the following: fragment sentences, run-on sentences, comma splices, parallel structure, modifiers, and coordination and subordination.
A complete sentence will have at least one subject and one verb. Sentences are considered fragments when they are missing either a subject or a verb. Consider the following two fragment sentences and their corrected versions:
- No Subject: Went to the store to buy brownie mix.
Added Subject: My dad went to the store to buy brownie mix.
- No Verb: Brownie mix at the store expensive.
Added Verb: Brownie mix at the store was expensive.
In addition to containing a subject and verb, a complete sentence will express a complete thought. Consider the following two sentences and their revised versions.
- Incomplete: When he went to the checkout counter to pay for the brownie mix.
Complete: When he went to the checkout counter to pay for the brownie mix, he got distracted by a display of cake mixes.
- Incomplete: The variety of yummy cake mixes.
Complete: The variety of yummy cake mixes convinced him that he’d rather bake a cake than brownies tonight.
Run-on sentences (Run-ons)
A run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses are combined without correct punctuation. An independent clause is a complete, simple sentence, meaning that it contains a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. There are a few ways to correct run-on sentences. Consider the following run-on sentence and the following options for revising it.
Run-On: The grocery store was really packed with people there must have been a big sale today.
- Correction 1: The grocery store was really packed with people. There must have been a big sale today.
Here, the error has been corrected by simply breaking the run-on sentence into two sentences.
- Correction 2: The grocery store was really packed with people, so there must have been a big sale today.
In this case, the sentence has been corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction and a comma. This is a compound sentence.
- Correction 3: Because the grocery store was really packed with people, there must have been a big sale.
In this example, the sentence has been corrected by adding a subordinating conjunction and a comma. This is a complex sentence.
See the “Coordination and Subordination” section later in Lesson 2 for more information on coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
Fragment sentence exercises
Some of the sentences below are fragments. Play editor on the sentences. Could you tell these writers why the fragments are incomplete sentences? Also, how would you tell the writers to fix them?
- Then I attended Morris Junior High. A junior high that was a bad experience.
- In the seventh grade every young boy goes out for football. To prove to himself and his parents that he is a man.
- She opened the door and let us into her home. Not realizing at the time that we would never enter that door in her home again.
- Making up his mind quickly. Jim ordered two dozen red roses for his wife. Hoping she would accept his apology.
- They were all having a good time. Until one of Joe's oldest and best friends had a little too much to drink.
Click here for exercise answers.
Run-on sentence exercises
Some of the sentences below are run-ons. Play editor on the sentences. Could you tell these writers why the run-ons are incorrect? Also, how would you tell the writers to fix them?
- We were really busy at the restaurant tonight. I waited tables straight through from 3:30 to 11:30 I never sat down for even one break.
- My dog had to go to the vet today. She cried and cried when they clipped her toenails, but then she was fine when they gave her a shot!
- The book we had to read for class was really long my teacher doesn’t seem to understand that we have other classes to read for too.
Click here for exercise answers.