Is a dependent clause considered a fragment? Are all fragments considered to be a dependent clause? Or is fragment like an umbrella where dependent clauses and phrases can be found? Thanks for any and all help.

  • Whether or not something is a fragment is independent of whether or what kind of phrase or clause it is. She went wherever she wanted is a sentence. Wherever she wanted is a dependent clause, but it is part of a complete sentence; it is not a fragment. If we punctuate it as She went. Wherever she wanted, then Wherever she wanted is neither part of the sentence She went nor a sentence in its own right: it is a fragment.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


"Fragment" has no technical meaning.
It means a chunk of language that someone disapproves of, for some reason.
Generally, the reasons for the disapproval are spurious.

Consequently, there is no ISO Standard definition for a "fragment",
so there can be no answer to your questions, alas.

My advice is to ignore "fragments", and concentrate on learning to recognize clauses.

If anyone tells you that something is a "fragment",
be sure to ask them to state precisely

  • what the rule is that applies
  • what it is a fragment of
  • what it should be
  • why it is inappropriate

Take notes. Be sure to ask for rule citations at every step, so you can look them up. Be very polite.
Nine times out of ten they won't have any citations, and can't state the rules.
So you needn't pay attention to them.


A fragment is an incomplete clause. Fragments occur often in dialogue because the elided bits are fresh in the memory. Some dependent clauses look like fragments because they have elided words, but they are real clauses and don't depend on previous sentences (except as the sources of anaphors).

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