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0008 Recognize Common Errors of Sentence Construction, Grammar, and Usage
Identify Sentence Fragments and Run-on Sentences
Generally, sentence fragments (incomplete sentences) and run-ons (two independent clauses joined improperly) are strongly discouraged in college writing.
Occasionally, fragments and run-ons are used in an informal essay to make a stylistic statement, but generally, on the test, they would be considered incorrect.
All of the following are incorrect sentence fragments:
- Buying a computer.
- My landlord, always planning to make renovations.
- Because he cannot spare the money.
- The table over in the corner.
Some of them have subjects and verbs; some of them do not. Not one of them, however, makes a complete sentence without other words, phrases or clauses being added.
Run-ons, also called comma splices and/or fused sentences, are always more than one complete idea.
“First, the thunder began, then, the lightening forked through the countryside”
is a comma splice because two independent clauses are joined by only a comma:
“First, the thunder began,” and
“Then, the lightening forked through the countryside.”
To correct this run-on, a semicolon could replace the comma after began or a period could be used after began.
For most students, sentence fragments and run-on sentences are not difficult to recognize when they appear as single sentences. The problem appears usually when there are several sentences or paragraphs and the fragments or run-on sentences make perfect sense in the context of the whole. It is in that context that these errors will appear on the MTEL test.
The best technique for identification is to look carefully at the individual sentences rather than at the entire paragraph. Each sentence should be able to stand alone.