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Fragment vs. Sentence: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 11, 2023
A fragment is an incomplete thought, while a sentence is a complete thought expressed with a subject and predicate.

Key Differences

A fragment and a sentence are both constructs in the English language. A fragment often feels abrupt because it's a piece of a thought, lacking either a subject, a predicate, or both. On the other hand, a sentence, by definition, is a group of words that presents a complete thought, containing both a subject and a predicate.
Both fragments and sentences can serve particular purposes in writing. For instance, fragments might be used stylistically in literature to convey urgency or fragmented thinking. In contrast, sentences are the backbone of clear and structured communication, ensuring the reader understands the complete idea being presented.
However, fragments are usually discouraged in formal writing due to their incomplete nature. Whereas a sentence, with its completeness, offers clarity and understanding, enabling effective communication.

Comparison Chart


An incomplete thought or phrase.
A complete thought with a subject and predicate.


Often used stylistically in literature.
Fundamental unit of clear communication.


May lack a subject, predicate, or both.
Must have both a subject and a predicate.

Acceptance in formal writing

Usually discouraged.
Encouraged and essential.


To create emphasis, urgency, or stylistic flair.
To convey complete ideas and information.

Fragment and Sentence Definitions


A broken or separated part.
The vase shattered into several fragments.


A group of words expressing a complete thought.
The dog barked loudly.


A short, disconnected piece in literature or music.
The author shared a fragment from his new book.


A set of words that is grammatically complete.
“She dances gracefully” is a sentence.


A part of a sentence missing essential components.
Without its verb, the “girl with a balloon” is a fragment.


A combination of a subject and predicate.
The sun shines brightly is a valid sentence.


A piece of something larger.
I found a fragment of glass on the floor.


A statement or proposition conveyed.
Can you translate this sentence into Spanish?


An incomplete thought in writing.
“Walking down the street” is a fragment.


A judgment or punishment given to someone in court.
He received a ten-year sentence for his crime.


A small part broken off or detached.


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.


An incomplete or isolated portion; a bit
Overheard fragments of their conversation.
Extant fragments of an old manuscript.


What is a sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought, consisting of a subject and predicate.

How do I recognize a sentence?

A sentence has both a subject and a predicate and conveys a complete thought.

Can fragments be effective in any context?

Yes, fragments can add stylistic flair, emphasis, or a sense of urgency in creative writing.

How can I turn a fragment into a sentence?

By ensuring it has both a subject and a predicate, thus expressing a complete thought.

Why are sentences fundamental in language?

Sentences convey complete ideas, making communication clear and structured.

Why are fragments considered incorrect in formal writing?

Fragments lack completeness, which can lead to confusion or ambiguity for the reader.

Is every group of words a sentence?

No, only groups of words that express a complete thought with a subject and predicate are sentences.

Why is it important to understand fragments?

Recognizing and correcting fragments can improve clarity and effectiveness in communication.

Can I use fragments in my writing?

While fragments can be used stylistically in literature or creative writing, they are usually discouraged in formal writing.

Can fragments be used in poetry?

Yes, poets often use fragments to convey emotion, rhythm, or emphasis.

What is a fragment?

A fragment is an incomplete thought or phrase, often lacking a subject, predicate, or both.

Do all languages have concepts of fragments and sentences?

Most languages have a concept of completeness in thought, but the rules and structures can vary.

How long can a sentence be?

Sentences can vary in length, but they should remain clear and concise to ensure understanding.

Are there tools to check for fragments in my writing?

Yes, many grammar-checking tools can identify fragments in your writing.

How can I practice identifying fragments and sentences?

Reading extensively, practicing writing, and using grammar exercises can help in honing this skill.

What's an example of a sentence?

"The birds are singing."

Can a single word be a fragment?

Yes, e.g., "Running."

Can a single word be a sentence?

In some cases, yes. For example, "Go!" is a sentence.

Is it wrong to use fragments in dialogue?

Not necessarily. In dialogue, fragments can mimic natural speech patterns and add realism.

Can a sentence consist of just two words?

Yes, as long as there's a subject and a verb, e.g., "She dances."
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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