A Grade Destroyer Every Student Must Know About

You spilled a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to finally get your essay down. You proofread it, and it seemed smooth. You get it back and, oh horror, your grade is at least a letter grade lower than you thought you deserved.

Could it be one culprit that did you in? Well, if your paper has a mark “sentence fragment” anywhere in it, that’s what probably did it.

So, what’s a sentence fragment, and how to kill it before it kills your grade?

Let’s take a look at the following sentence extracted from a sample essay from one of my readers:

Studying might make you mentally strong, but you cannot stay physically fit unless you do some exercise.  Sports being the best among all.

The above excerpt seemingly contains two sentences. But in reality, you’re looking at just one sentence that was forcefully separated into two by a period. And as a result, a sentence fragment was created:

Sports being the best among all.

Now, let’s learn a very simple but very powerful rule:

A sentence must have a SUBJECT and a VERB! If either a subject or a verb is missing, it is not a sentence.

So, what is a Subject? It is the WHAT of the sentence. It is WHAT the sentence is ABOUT! And the Verb is what the Subject DOES (or IS). It’s that simple. For example:

Essays suck!

ESSAYS is the subject of this sentence (yes, this is a complete sentence because it has a subject and a verb).

SUCK is the verb of this sentence (because it describes what essays do – they suck!)

And now let’s take a look at our sentence fragment again:

Sports being the best among all.

Does this sentence have a Subject? Yes, if we read the sentence separately, the subject is Sports.

Does it have a Verb? It may seem that it does, but it really doesn’t. You see, the verb being does NOT describe the subject Sports. Why? Well, can you say: “Sports being?” the way you say “Essays suck?”

No, you can’t. If you stopped someone on the street and said: “Essays suck,” your listener would probably think that you’re having a nervous breakdown, but at least he would be able to understand you. Why? Because you had uttered a complete sentence.

What if you stopped the same person on the street and said: “Sports being?” The person would now think that you’ve had a complete meltdown, you poor thing. Why? because this is not a sentence – it is not a complete human thought, because it lacks the verb.

Now if you said one of the following, the stranger would understand you:

  • “Sports suck!”
  • “Sports is the best!”

Why? Because each of these sentences contains a Subject and a Verb.

So, what could we do with the above excerpt to make it work? Let’s see:

Studying might make you mentally strong, but you cannot stay physically fit unless you do some exercise[,] sports being the best among all.

Does this sentence work? Yes, it does, because it is finally whole and without fragments. Makes sense?

Hope this helps.

Questions? Comments? Don’t hesitate and post.

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil is an e-learning professional who helps adult learners finish their degrees by teaching them academic writing skills.

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