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What Are Incomplete Sentences?

Incomplete sentences are a constant problem for students and writers. An incomplete sentence checker is a useful tool for identifying and correcting sentence fragments. Incomplete sentences, also referred to as sentence fragments, are phrases that lack one or more of the three essential elements required to make a complete sentence. Just because a phrase begins with a capital letter and finishes with an ending punctuation mark (period, exclamation point or question mark) doesn’t make it a complete sentence. It must have all of the following elements:

  • Subject: this is the person or thing that the sentence is about. The subject performs the action in a sentence and is usually a noun, pronoun or a noun phrase.
  • Predicate: the predicate is a verb or verb phrase and modifies the subject in some way. It is the action that the subject is performing.
  • Express a complete thought: a sentence must communicate a complete thought to the reader so that they know what it is about.

There are four reasons that a phrase will be considered an incomplete sentence. Here are the four reasons and an example of each:

how do i check for incomplete sentences
  • Missing a subject: a phrase that doesn’t have a subject is an incomplete sentence
    • Incomplete sentence: “Enjoys going to the park on weekends.” Who or what enjoys going to the park on weekends?
  • Missing a verb: a phrase missing a verb is an incomplete sentence.
    • Incomplete sentence: “My lazy dog named Rover.” What does Rover do?
  • Missing a subject and verb: a phrase missing both a subject and a verb is an incomplete sentence.
    • Incomplete sentence: “Across the field and into the forest.” The reader doesn’t know who did what
  • Subordinate/dependent clause: a subordinate or dependent clause contains both a subject and a verb but fails to express a complete thought.
    • Incomplete sentence: “Because the car belongs to me.” The reader doesn’t know what is happening in the phrase because a complete thought isn’t communicated

It can be difficult and time consuming to identify incomplete sentences in your own writing. You may want to use a find the incomplete sentence online helper to assist you with detecting sentence fragments.

How to Detect Incomplete Sentences

Before you can fix incomplete sentences you have to find them. How do I check for incomplete sentences? Here are a few rules you can follow when trying to identify incomplete sentences:

how to detect incomplete sentences
  • Check for a subject: look to see if the phrase has a subject. Without a subject it is an incomplete sentence.
  • Check for a verb: examine the phrase to see if it has a verb. If there is no verb it is an incomplete sentence.
  • Determine if it is a subordinate clause: subordinate clauses require an independent clause to express a complete thought. Look for phrases that begin with subordinate conjunctions such as “because”, “while”, “before”, “until” and “when” among others
  • Look for participle phrases: participle phrases often begin with verbs that end in “-ed” and “-ing”. Participle phrases fail to express a complete thought.
  • Check for appositives: appositives are noun phrases that rename and clarify another noun. They are often long phrases with a noun and a verb and get mistaken for complete sentences. An appositive on its own is an incomplete sentence.

If you find using things such as subordinate clauses and participle phrases to identify incomplete sentences confusing you are not alone. One way how to find incomplete sentences free online is to use an app to tell you if it’s an incomplete sentence. Our grammar tool to check for incomplete sentences can identify every sentence fragment in your text.

How to Fix Incomplete Sentences

Once you have identified fragments you need to check incomplete sentence errors to determine what caused the problem so that you can correct it. Here are some examples of incomplete sentence mistakes and how to fix them.

  • Remove the subordinating conjunction: removing the subordinating conjunction makes the incomplete sentence an independent clause.
    • Incomplete sentence: “Since it was Rick’s turn to wash the dishes.”
    • Corrected sentence: “It was Rick’s turn to wash the dishes.”
  • Add a subject: an incomplete sentence missing a subject can be fixed by adding one.
    • Incomplete sentence: “Likes to read books in his spare time.”
    • Corrected sentence: “Paul likes to read books in his spare time”
  • Add a verb: add a verb if there is no action being performed by the subject.
    • Incomplete sentence: “The balloon that was being inflated.”
    • Corrected: “The balloon that was being inflated popped.”

If you are experiencing difficulties fixing sentence fragments our free incomplete sentence corrector can help.

What You Should Know About Our Incomplete Sentence Analyzer

Our run on checker and incomplete sentences finder can detect every sentence fragment in your text. Once incomplete sentences have been found, our writing tool provides you with a report that identifies the fragments for you and recommends corrections you can make to fix the problem. However, that isn’t all the sentence corrector does. If you don’t know how to fix comma splices and other sentence issues our writing and revision tool can handle the job. Here are the different functions the incomplete sentence fixer performs:

incomplete sentence checker functions
  • Grammar checker: detects and corrects many types of grammar mistakes. These include fused sentences, verb tense problems, noun/pronoun agreement, misplaced modifiers, subject/verb agreement and more.
  • Spelling checker: identifies and corrects all spelling mistakes
  • Punctuation checker: finds and fixes all types of punctuation mistakes
  • Passive/active voice detector: identifies passive and active voice use and recommends adjustments to change voice
  • Tone detector: identifies tone of your text and suggests adjustments if needed to set the appropriate tone
  • Text similarity checker: detects duplicate text to avoid plagiarism issues

Aside from all the different functions it performs, the incomplete sentence corrector is fast, accurate and works on any type of paper or text. 

Try our free incomplete sentence checker for a paper completely free of sentence fragments and other mistakes!