My clients often struggle with their writing in English especially when it comes to writing complete sentences. In written English, your sentences need to be clear, concise, correct and be coherent. (We call this the Four Cs of writing.) In other words, your thought processes need to flow on paper as well as in your head. I tell my clients that they must always think of their reader when putting pen to paper. If your reader cannot follow your thoughts, your written effort is wasted.

In its simplest form, sentences need to be complete and have a Subject, Verb and a complete idea to make sense. If not, you’re left with what are called sentence fragments.

Here is a helpful illustration and explanation by Kaplan in the form of a cartoon to convey the importance of avoiding sentence fragments. You can find this explanation on their website, too.

Blog_Kaplan_Sentence Fragments

Here is Kaplan’s explanation:

The three sentence fragments in this cartoon are:

  • After you add the sugar.
  • While you beat the eggs.
  • Before you put them in the oven.

These sentences have incomplete ideas and end too quickly. After reading these sentences, the cartoon characters asks questions because they need more information. A sentence fragment is a sentence that is incomplete.

For a sentence to be complete, it must have:

1: A subject. This is the person, place, or thing performing or doing the action.
2: A verb. This is the action.
3: A complete thought. This stops the reader waiting for another word.

The three sentence fragments in the cartoon have a subject and a verb but there is no complete idea. Here’s how they could look as complete sentences:

  • After you add the sugar, you add the milk.
  • Build up a froth while you beat the eggs.
  • Make sure the cookies are the right shape before you put them in the oven.

Do you do much writing in English? What do you struggle with most? If you can keep the Four Cs in mind, you should be fine.

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Ciao for now


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