Grammar 101: Using Sentence Fragments

While going through school, you were likely taught a whole series of rules as to how you should compose your sentences. Your teachers probably told you about how you should never end your sentences in prepositions and you shouldn’t start them with words like “and” or “but.” However, as with some mathematical “rules” that you may have learned, you also learn later on that these rules are meant to broken.

I’m not suggesting that sentence fragments are universally acceptable, but there are situations where they can be a very powerful tool in improving your writing style. This is particular true with creative writing or works of fiction. They have have great impact. Really.

For those of you who are not quite as familiar, a sentence fragment is essentially an incomplete sentence. It may be missing a subject, a verb, or sometimes even both. The final “sentence” in the preceding paragraph, for instance, is clearly a fragment. By having it stand on its own, however, it holds more dramatic weight than it would have had it been integrated into the sentence that preceded it.

It is absolutely important that you should work to have good grammar, but there are times when you may consider bending the rules too. The key is that you know that you are bending these rules for the purpose of creative expression or more interesting writing, rather than simply making a bad error.

You probably won’t find too many sentence fragments in a legal document, but they can be great for short stories, editorial content, and other areas where creativity is greatly valued. Fresh and original writing is always more interesting.