Skip to content

Run-on Sentences and Sentence Fragments 5 (acceptable sentence fragments)

In some contexts sentences that are grammatically incomplete are considered acceptable. For skilled writers, the brevity of certain sorts of incomplete sentence may make for an effective means of emphasizing a point or of indicating a change of direction:

In baseball, a lead of four runs going into the ninth inning is a safe lead. Not this time.

Is the original film better than the re-make? In every respect.

Contexts in which such writing may be considered appropriate occur far more frequently in informal writing than in formal writing—and instructors at the post secondary level often disagree as to when it is acceptable to deviate in this sort of way from grammatical conventions.  For those reasons, students are well advised to consult their instructors before making a habit of intentionally writing sentence fragments for effect in formal academic writing.

The following exercise helps to give you a sense of the sorts of sentence fragments that are generally considered acceptable in informal writing (and that some may consider acceptable in certain sorts of formal academic writing as well).

Identify the sentence status of each of the following examples.