(The Four Cardinal Sins of
1. The Sentence Fragment: is a
group of words not expressing a complete thought but written and punctuated
like a complete sentence.
double-decker ice cream cone dripping down the child's chin and shirt.
To be so pretty like Shirley in her new, pressed polyester pants.
A fragment is a
phrase that lacks a subject or a verb. Convert the fragment into a
clause by adding a subject and verb.
a. The double-decker ice cream is
slowly dripping down the child's chin.
b. To be so pretty like Shirley
in her new, pressed polyester pants is my goal.
2. Semicolon Sentence Fragment:
With very few exceptions, one must have a main clause before and
after a semicolon. Failure to do so constitutes a semicolon sentence
a. Sherman wants
that doggy in the window; the fluffy one.
b. Poor little Amy was blown by
the wind; arms flailing everywhere.
Remember that a
main clause is a group of words with both a subject and a verb that
expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a complete sentence. Place
a semicolon only between main clauses.
a. Sherman wants that doggy in the
window; he is pointing to the fluffy one.
b. Poor little Amy was
blown by the wind; her arms were flailing
3. The Comma Splice: occurs when
two main clauses are separated only with a comma but without the aid of a short
a. The basketball
team is playing tonight, I hope they win.
b. I would have gone with him to
the party, he was just too drunk.
Learn to use
the six short coordinate conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, so, yet. These
conjunctions can join coordinate (grammatically equal) words, phrases,
subordinate clauses, and main clauses.
a. The basketball team is playing
tonight, and I hope they win.
b. I would have gone with him to the
party, but he was just too drunk.
4. Run-on Sentence: occurs when two
main clauses are neither joined by a short coordinate conjunction nor separated
with a comma--one clause literally runs on into the next.
a. The rain beat
down on the sidewalk wind blew fiercely.
b. After the explanation I
understood everything consequently I felt much better.
recognize main clauses--look for subject/verb combinations within each
sentence. Separate main clauses with a semicolon, OR a short coordinate
conjunction preceded by a comma, OR a long coordinate conjunction preceded by a
semicolon and followed by a comma. Long coordinate conjunctions include:
accordingly, besides, consequently, furthermore, therefore, for example,
however, instead, in addition to, likewise, moreover, nevertheless, in fact,
that is, otherwise, on the other hand, on the contrary, thus, etc.
a. The rain beat down on the sidewalk;
wind blew fiercely.
b. After the explanation I understood everything;
consequently, I felt much better.