Two types of boundary problems are fragments and run-on sentences. A run-on sentence can be either two independent clauses run together without punctuation or a comma splice in which two independent clauses are incorrectly separated by a comma instead of a period (full stop) or semicolon. In Part 1 of "Sentence Boundary Problems," we will discuss how to avoid fragments. There are four types of fragments. Let"s look at examples of each and make corrections.
1) Verbal Fragments (gerunds, participles, infinitives)
A student writes, "Swimming in the Olympic trials." This is a sentence fragment. Used as a gerund, it could be the subject of the sentence, for example, "Swimming in the Olympic trials was the thrill of my life!" Swimming could also be a part of a participial phrase modifying a noun, for example, "Swimming under the pressure of the Olympic trials, an athlete either learns how to stay calm or be eliminated." Another example might be "I took pictures of him swimming in the Olympic trials." An infinitive fragment might read, "To swim in the Olympics." Used as the subject of a sentence we could have this: "To swim in the Olympics requires a kind of stamina that takes long hours of practice." As an adverbial sentence modifier, it could read: "To swim in the Olympics, an athlete must practice long hours in order to build up the necessary stamina."
2) Prepositional Fragments
"No one came to the performance. Except my mother." Correction: "No one came to the performance except my mother." Simply make the prepositional phrase part of the preceding sentence.
3) Noun/Modifier Fragments
Frequently, students fail to notice that a noun is modified by a relative clause, creating a longer noun phrase, not a main clause with subject and verb. Students may mistakenly think that the verb of the relative clause (in bold) is the verb of a complete sentence. "The class that meets at ten o"Clock." "The book that was on the table." More is required. An example might be: "The class that meets at ten o"Clock was cancelled this morning." "The book that was on the table has been moved"
4) Subordinate Fragments:
A subordinate, modifying clause is a dependent clause, i.e. it cannot stand alone. The solution is most often to connect the dependent or subordinate clause to the independent clause. Examples with subordinate clauses underlined: "I want to attend all the classes on Romantic poetry. Once my other classes are over." "Jerry looked in the waste basket. Because he needed the first draft of his paper." These are easily corrected by joining the clauses. If the dependent clause comes first, we can add a comma.
Take a look at this paragraph. Try to find and correct the mistakes. Then check your work by reading the correct paragraph.
Last week, my sister and I left Seoul and went to Gangneung. Our friends who spend most weekends on the beach. We had packed our suitcases earlier in the week. With swimsuits and beach toys. No cots or sleeping bags. Because we had been invited to stay at our friends house. When we got there. We found no one home. Since we had no sleeping bags. We could not camp out. So we returned home. When we arrived home. Our friends were waiting in front of our house. They thought we were coming the next weekend. And decided to pay us a surprise visit in Seoul.
Last week, my sister and I went to Gangneung to join our friends who spend most weekends on the beach. We had packed our suitcases earlier in the week with swimsuits and beach toys, but not cots or sleeping bags, because we had been invited to stay at their house. When we got there, we found no one home. Since we had no sleeping bags, we could not camp out, so we returned home. When we arrived home, our friends were waiting in front of our house. They thought we were coming to Gangneung the next weekend and decided to pay us a surprise visit in Seoul.