Fragments – Your thoughts?

What are your thoughts about sentence fragments? I admit that I’ve been a stickler for complete sentences for a long time. With the exception of dialogue, since we rarely talk in complete sentences, I’ve always been very loyal to that grammar rule. I like complete sentences. I even crave them in my reading. However, it appears that I am in the minority in this.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and I’m finding many authors appear to embrace fragments.  It’s made me rethink my opinion. Is there a place for them? My initial conclusion is that fragments can be used effectively for impact, such as, “It was cold in the boardroom. Too cold.” This creates an impression that something is amiss, and it has more impact because the two thoughts are separated by that period, rather than a comma. The period tells the brain to stop and take a breath.

The problem, I would suggest, is the overuse of fragments. I recently read a book that had more fragments than complete sentences. It was simply laziness on the part of the author. Often, by adding a comma, he could have turned his fragments into real sentences without adding words or changing meaning or even diminishing impact.

As fellow authors and fellow readers, what are your thoughts? Is this grammar rule outdated and one to be ignored, sometimes ignored, or always adhered to. I’d like to know what you think.

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About Mary Ellen Bramwell

I am an author, wife and mother.
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8 Responses to Fragments – Your thoughts?

  1. marklove15 says:

    I’d agree that fragments are more common in dialogue. On occasion, I’ve seen them used in self-reflection. When there are more fragments than sentences, it’s either a sign of laziness or ignorance.

  2. I agree that fragments in conversation or thoughts are normal but don’t need to be overused. I also agree that if used in straight text, they might give the appearance of laziness or ignorance. It’s not often I find myself so agreeable! Thanks! 🙂

  3. trosedesigns says:

    My first novel, River of Gold, was narrated in the first person and had a conversational tone. Phrases like Fat chance. or No way! could be sprinkled in seamlessly but with restraint, like a jalapeño in a stew. With my second book, told in third person from numerous points of view, such phrases would not work except in dialog.

  4. trosedesigns says:

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation? trosedesigns.

  5. bkentharrison@comcast.net says:

    I agree. I find myself using sentence fragments occasionally, in my letters and book reviews for example. They are useful for emphasis as you say.

  6. bkentharrison@comcast.net says:

    I agree. Sentence fragments can be used for emphasis as you say. I do it myself.

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