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English Arts - Lessons

Complete Sentences and Sentence Fragments

When you are talking, you do not always have to use complete sentences. Sometimes you can answer a question with just one or two words:


“My dog.”


Pay attention the next time you have a conversation with someone. Notice how often you answer each other with just a few words.

However, when you are writing, you need to use complete sentences. You need to make sure your reader understands what you are talking about.

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought.

Which of the following groups of words expresses a complete thought?

  1. Julie wrote
  2. Wrote a story
  3. Julie wrote a story.

The third group tells us something very clearly. It is a complete thought.

 It doesn’t leave us wondering what Julie wrote.

It doesn’t leave us wondering who wrote the story.

It is a complete sentence.

Sentence fragments do not express a complete thought. They really don’t make sense, because there is something left out. A sentence fragment will leave the reader wondering what happened to rest of the sentence.

These are sentence fragments:

  1. Because whales breathe air
  2. Last night when I was walking
  3. A strong wind and flashes of lightening

These sentence fragments leave you wondering, “Then what?”

A sentence fragment does not express a complete thought.

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