Today's Writing Tip from Rosemary Camilleri
Don’t Write Sentence Fragments
by Rosemary Camilleri, Ph.D.
This “sentence” is not a sentence:
Whatever the carpenter specified in the contract.
It’s a kind of fragment called a subordinate clause. (Clauses are meaningful word groups that contain at least a subject and its verb.)
Subordinate clauses begin with certain conjunctions (and conjunction-like words or phrases):
after, before, since, until, although, how, so that, when (whenever), as, if, that, which, where (wherever), in order that, though, whether, as if, as though, once, what (whatever), while, because, provided, given, unless, why, who (whoever), whom
If you have written a clause, and it begins with one of those words, you cannot correctly end it with a period. It is only a subordinate clause:
Although Ali drives a gray car
is a subordinate clause. To be correct, it must be joined by an independent clause:
Although Ali drives a gray car, he also owns a red one.
Ali owns a red car, although he drives a gray car.
Because Ali drives a gray car, I sometimes forget that he owns a red one.
I sometimes forget that Ali owns a red car because he drives a gray one.
Copyright 2009 Rosemary Camilleri, Ph.D.
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Last updated 2/27/09
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