Writing In Complete (or Incomplete) Sentences

WRITTEN May 12, 2015 Author: Rich Atkins

Fragments and Run-Ons and Errors – Oh My!

Writing In Complete–or Incomplete Sentences? To be sure any one sentence you write is correct and complete, ask yourself, “Is it understandable out of context?” (In other words, if you stated only the sentence out loud to someone, would it make sense? If it does, then it’s probably complete.) Use complete sentences in your writing. They’re easy to read, and will be clear for your audience.

A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence, usually lacking either a subject or a verb.  Writing in complete 

 

Fragment: The ringing telephone.

Complete: The ringing telephone startled the customer.

Fragment: Driving all night.

Complete: Loretta stayed up, driving all night.

Complete sentences express complete thoughts.

  

The policies on the desk… (incomplete)

The policies are on the desk. (complete)

Because of increased sales. (incomplete)

Because of increased sales, we will hire more salespeople. (complete)

 


Run-on Sentences

A run-on sentence contains two or more independent thoughts not separated by any punctuation. To correct a run-on sentence, simply take each complete thought, and end each with a period.

Run-on (incorrect): The parts should be the same we can always have John check the serial numbers.

(Two ideas, and no punctuation to separate them – easily fixable by adding a period after “same” and starting “we” with a capital letter.)

Fixing Run-on Sentences

RUN-ON: Edwin went home no one told the team leader that he was leaving.

  • Create two or more sentences.

Edwin went home. No one told the team leader that he was leaving.

  • Add a semicolon between the clauses.

Edwin went home; no one told the team leader that he was leaving.

  • Add a comma, then a conjunction after the first independent clause.

Edwin went home, and no one told the team leader that he was leaving.

  • Add a subordinating conjunction to one of the clauses.

Edwin went home, although no one told the team leader that he was leaving.

This information is from our Effective Business Writing curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Photo courtesy of c_kc_k.

Stay Connected

Subscribe to the IC weekly newsletter for tips and advice on your communication skills!

Public Classes

Effective communication is empowering. Get started on your path to being more clear, brief, and effective.

Upcoming Classes