Writing Complete Sentences
All sentences must have a subject and a verb and express a complete thought.
Emily climbed a ladder.
(The subject is Emily—what the sentence is about. The verb is climbed—what Emily did.)
A sentence fragment occurs when a group of words is missing a subject or verb (or both) or doesn't express a complete thought.
While she painted the wall.
(These words have a subject (she) and a verb (painted) but do not express a complete thought. What happened while she painted?)
While she painted the wall, she spilled some blue paint on the ground.
(The incomplete thought is joined to a complete sentence.)
At first glance, a fragment may look like a complete sentence because it starts with a capital letter and ends with period. However, on closer inspection, you'll see something essential is missing—a subject, a verb, or a complete thought.
Cleaned up the mess with a rag and soap.
(Who cleaned up the mess? The fragment is missing a subject.)
Emily cleaned up the mess with a rag and soap.
(A subject is added to create a complete sentence.)
Find subjects and verbs.
Read each sentence. Write down its subject and verb. Make a copy of this Google doc.
- The ladder wobbled.
- Emily descended one step.
- She sighed with relief.
- The wobbling stopped.
- She dipped the roller in blue paint.
- Drops dribbled off the roller.
- She painted the wall with smooth strokes.
- A cloud might have rolled outside the window.
might have rolled
- When she glanced outside, Emily saw a bird fly by.
- The robin swooped into a bird feeder.
Read each sentence fragment. Use your imagination to create a sentence, adding a subject or verb or complete thought. Make a copy of this Google doc.
- On the camping trip, Theo.
(Answers will vary.) On the camping trip, Theo slept in a tent.
- Roasted marshmallows under the stars.
(Answers will vary.) He roasted marshmallows under the stars.
- To cool off a flaming marshmallow.
(Answers will vary.) To cool off a flaming marshmallow, Theo blew as hard as he could.
- Helped him pitch the tent.
(Answers will vary.) His mom helped him pitch the tent.
- When it started to rain.
(Answers will vary.) When it started to rain, they raced into the tent.
- Dreamed he was sleeping on the moon.
(Answers will vary.) Theo dreamed he was sleeping on the moon.
- When he woke up
(Answers will vary.) When he woke up, he wasn't sure where he was.
- Glanced out the tent and saw it.
(Answers will vary.) He glanced out the tent saw it.
- A shooting star.
(Answers will vary.) A shooting star dashed over the night sky.
- After the sun rose.
(Answers will vary.) After the sun rose, Theo and his mom made breakfast.
Write complete sentences.
Write four complete sentences about a great outdoor adventure. Underline each subject once. Underline each verb twice if you are working on a printed copy. Make the verb bold if you are working on your computer. Check to make sure each sentence expresses a complete thought.