Fragment vs. Sentence — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 18, 2023
A fragment is an incomplete piece of an idea that lacks essential elements, while a sentence is a complete thought with a subject and predicate.
Difference Between Fragment and Sentence
In the realm of grammar, the distinction between a "Fragment" and a "Sentence" is vital. A fragment is typically a group of words that appears to be a sentence but doesn't express a complete thought. On the other hand, a sentence provides clarity, comprising both a subject and a predicate.
In academic or formal writing, fragments are typically avoided because they can lead to ambiguity. A sentence, being complete in structure, ensures clarity and helps in conveying ideas more effectively.
Fragments often leave readers hanging, as they lack necessary components to be standalone thoughts. These can be dependent clauses or phrases that seem like they should be complete but aren't. Conversely, a sentence stands robustly on its own, conveying a full idea without requiring supplementary information.
To summarize, while both fragments and sentences are groups of words, the difference lies in their completeness and the clarity of thought they bring. A fragment lacks in wholesomeness, whereas a sentence is the embodiment of a clear, standalone idea.
It's intriguing to observe that while sentences are the backbone of coherent writing, fragments aren't necessarily incorrect or undesirable. In literature and informal writing, authors might deliberately use fragments to convey urgency, emphasis, or a stylistic choice. Whereas, the judicious use of sentences ensures that the message is clear and comprehensive.
Lacks essential components to stand alone.
Expresses a complete thought.
Might lack a subject, predicate, or both.
Has both a subject and a predicate.
Usage in Writing
Often seen in informal writing or for stylistic flair.
Fundamental unit in all types of coherent writing.
Can be ambiguous.
Provides clear information.
"While we waited."
"We waited at the bus stop."
An incomplete or isolated portion.
A fragment of her thoughts surfaced during the conversation.
A judgment or decree in court.
He received a five-year sentence for the crime.
A piece broken off from something larger.
A fragment of the ancient vase was found at the site.
A set of words that is complete in itself.
Each sentence in the essay contributed to the argument.
A piece of text that doesn't form a complete sentence.
The editor highlighted the fragment in the paragraph.
A punishment given by a judge.
The jury waited to hear the defendant's sentence.
A part separated from the whole.
The story was presented in fragments, challenging readers to piece it together.
A grammatical unit that is syntactically independent and has a subject that is expressed or, as in imperative sentences, understood and a predicate that contains at least one finite verb.
A small, disconnected piece or part.
He could only recall a fragment of the dream.
The penalty imposed by a law court or other authority upon someone found guilty of a crime or other offense.
A small part broken off or separated from something
Small fragments of pottery
(Archaic) A maxim.
Break or cause to break into fragments
Management has tighter control through fragmenting the tasks
Lough Erne fragmented into a series of lakes
(Obsolete) An opinion, especially one given formally after deliberation.
A small part broken off or detached.
To impose a sentence on (a criminal defendant found guilty, for example).
An incomplete or isolated portion; a bit
Overheard fragments of their conversation.
Extant fragments of an old manuscript.
(dated) The decision or judgement of a jury or court; a verdict.
The court returned a sentence of guilt in the first charge, but innocence in the second.
(Grammar) A sentence fragment.
The judicial order for a punishment to be imposed on a person convicted of a crime.
The judge declared a sentence of death by hanging for the infamous child rapist.
To break or separate (something) into fragments.
A punishment imposed on a person convicted of a crime.
To become broken into fragments
After the election, the coalition fragmented.
(obsolete) A saying, especially from a great person; a maxim, an apophthegm.
A part broken off; a small, detached portion; an imperfect part, either physically or not
A fragment of an ancient writing
I heard a small fragment of the conversation.
(grammar) A grammatically complete series of words consisting of a subject and predicate, even if one or the other is implied, and typically beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop or other punctuation.
The children were made to construct sentences consisting of nouns and verbs from the list on the chalkboard.
(grammar) A sentence not containing a subject or a predicate.
(logic) A formula with no free variables.
(computing) An incomplete portion of code.
(computing theory) Any of the set of strings that can be generated by a given formal grammar.
(internet) A portion of a URL referring to a subordinate resource or anchor (such as a specific point on a web page), introduced by the
www.example.com/home#recentends with a fragment.
(obsolete) Sense; meaning; significance.
(intransitive) To break apart.
(obsolete) One's opinion; manner of thinking.
(transitive) To cause to be broken into pieces.
A pronounced opinion or judgment on a given question.
To break up and disperse (a file) into non-contiguous areas of a disk.
To declare a sentence on a convicted person; to condemn to punishment.
The judge sentenced the embezzler to ten years in prison, along with a hefty fine.
A part broken off; a small, detached portion; an imperfect part; as, a fragment of an ancient writing.
Gather up the fragments that remain.
To decree, announce, or pass as a sentence.
A piece broken off or cut off of something else;
A fragment of rock
(obsolete) To utter sententiously.
A broken piece of a brittle artifact
Sense; meaning; significance.
Tales of best sentence and most solace.
The discourse itself, voluble enough, and full of sentence.
An incomplete piece;
Fragments of a play
An opinion; a decision; a determination; a judgment, especially one of an unfavorable nature.
My sentence is for open war.
That by them [Luther's works] we may pass sentence upon his doctrines.
Break or cause to break into pieces;
The plate fragmented
A philosophical or theological opinion; a dogma; as, Summary of the Sentences; Book of the Sentences.
In civil and admiralty law, the judgment of a court pronounced in a cause; in criminal and ecclesiastical courts, a judgment passed on a criminal by a court or judge; condemnation pronounced by a judicial tribunal; doom. In common law, the term is exclusively used to denote the judgment in criminal cases.
Received the sentence of the law.
A short saying, usually containing moral instruction; a maxim; an axiom; a saw.
A combination of words which is complete as expressing a thought, and in writing is marked at the close by a period, or full point. See Proposition, 4.
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
A king . . . understanding dark sentences.
To pass or pronounce judgment upon; to doom; to condemn to punishment; to prescribe the punishment of.
Nature herself is sentenced in your doom.
To decree or announce as a sentence.
To utter sententiously.
A string of words satisfying the grammatical rules of a language;
He always spoke in grammatical sentences
(criminal law) a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed;
The conviction came as no surprise
The period of time a prisoner is imprisoned;
He served a prison term of 15 months
His sentence was 5 to 10 years
He is doing time in the county jail
Pronounce a sentence on (somebody) in a court of law;
He was condemned to ten years in prison
A grammatical unit comprising a subject and predicate.
The sentence was carefully crafted to convey emotion.
A statement of opinion or belief.
She wrote a powerful sentence about her views.
Can a fragment be corrected?
Yes, by adding missing elements or connecting it to a related sentence.
Is every group of words a sentence?
No, some groups of words lack the necessary components and are fragments.
What makes a sentence complete?
A sentence requires a subject and a predicate to be complete.
Can a single word be a sentence?
Yes, if it expresses a complete thought, like "Run!"
How can I identify a fragment?
Check if the group of words expresses a complete thought with a subject and predicate.
Are fragments errors in writing?
In formal writing, they're often considered errors, but they can be stylistic choices elsewhere.
Is punctuation a sign of a complete sentence?
Not always; even fragments can have punctuation.
Can fragments be purposefully used in writing?
Yes, particularly for stylistic or emphatic purposes in informal writing.
Are commands sentences?
Yes, commands like "Close the door!" are imperative sentences.
Do all sentences express facts?
No, sentences can express facts, opinions, commands, or questions.
Can fragments be long?
Yes, length doesn't determine a fragment; lack of a complete thought does.
What's the main purpose of a sentence?
To convey a clear, complete thought or idea.
Can sentences be questions?
Yes, interrogative sentences are questions.
Why avoid fragments in academic writing?
Fragments can lead to ambiguity and may be seen as errors in formal contexts.
How can I transform a fragment into a sentence?
Add necessary components like a subject or predicate, or connect it to a related sentence.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.