Can You Tell If This Is a Complete Sentence, a Fragment, Or a Run-on?

J. Reinoehl

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Few people (beyond professional writers and English teachers) know all the nuances of proper grammar. But determining whether a sentence is a fragment, complete, or a run-on is something fifth graders can do. How well do you know what your sentences are? Find out by taking this quiz.

The United States was home to the first organized baseball game they played it in Hoboken, New Jersey.

It is a run-on sentence that should be two sentences: “The United States was home to the first organized baseball game. They played it in Hoboken, New Jersey.”

In addition to writing Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White.

The sentence needs more information to complete it and is a fragment. It should read, “In addition to writing Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White wrote The Elements of Style with William Strunk, Jr.

Between 2007 and 2009, several Californians filed eight lawsuits against Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries and Froot Loops for not containing real fruit.

The statement is a complete sentence. The simple subject is “Californians,” and the simple predicate is “filed.”

Ancient Egyptians considered cats sacred if you killed one, they gave you the death penalty.

This is a run-on that should be two sentences: “Ancient Egyptians considered cats sacred. If you killed one, they gave you the death penalty.”

At the turn of the 20th century, Tug-of-War.

The sentence is a fragment and needs more information. It should read, “At the turn of the 20th century, Tug-of-War was an Olympic sport.”

The island nation of Tokelau acquires all of its electricity from the sun.

This is a complete sentence. Its subject is “The island nation of Tokelau,” and its predicate is “acquires all of its electricity from the sun.”

“There is no patent,” Salk said “could you patent the sun?”

Dialogue can be tricky, but this one is two sentences about Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine (which he refused to patent). Note where the period should go: "There is no patent," Salk said. "Could you patent the sun?"

Only one man is known to have survived both the A-bomb explosion at Hiroshima and the one at Nagasaki: Tsutomu Yamaguchi.

Only one man is known to have survived both the A-bomb explosion at Hiroshima and the one at Nagasaki: Tsutomu Yamaguchi.

Has more board game sales than any other country.

There is no subject in this sentence.

A baby is not able to taste salt until it is four months old.

This sentence is complete as written. The simple subject is “baby,” and the simple predicate is “is.”

This is how Nutella was invented Pietro Ferrero was an Italian pastry maker who added hazelnut paste to his ration of chocolate to make it go further.

The run-on sentence above is tricky because the two independent clauses are closely related, and the first one is introducing the second. You could correct the issue with a colon: “This is how Nutella was invented: Pietro Ferrero was an Italian pastry maker who added hazelnut paste to his ration of chocolate to make it go further.”

By peeing on them while in a handstand.

This is only a sentence fragment. You could fix it like this: “Male pandas mark trees by peeing on them while in a handstand.”

According to the Code of Hammurabi, female tavern-keepers would be drowned to death for cheating their customers.

The sentence is written correctly. “According to the Code of Hammurabi” is a dependent clause and cannot stand alone as a sentence.

Airports were initially given the two-letter National Weather Service Code to identify them easier when this convention no longer worked, a three-letter code was assigned with some airports just adding an “X” to their two-letter code.

This needs to be two sentences: “Airports were initially given the two-letter National Weather Service Code to identify them easier. When this convention no longer worked, a three-letter code was assigned with some airports just adding an “X” to their two-letter code.”

If an object the size of an orange represented the sun, a small grain of sand would represent the Earth they would need to be placed 27 feet apart to maintain the scale.

You could use a conjunction to fix this run-on sentence. “If an object the size of an orange represented the sun, a small grain of sand would represent the Earth, and they would need to be placed 27 feet apart to maintain the scale.”

Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas.

This sentence contains a subject but needs a predicate to complete it. It could be fixed like this, “Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, did not finish high school but earned a GED in 1993.”

Will not ripen on the tree and remain fresh there for up to seven months.

This sentence needs a subject. Corrected it would read, “Unpicked avocadoes will not ripen on the tree and remain fresh there for up to seven months.”

The origin story for Netflix has changed throughout its history Reed Hastings initially said he got the idea after accumulating $40 in rental late fees but Marc Randolph said that was contrived and they were really inspired by Amazon.com.

Correctly punctuated the sentence above should read, “The origin story for Netflix has changed throughout its history. Reed Hastings initially said he got the idea after accumulating $40 in rental late fees, but Marc Randolph said that was contrived, and they were really inspired by Amazon.com.

Originally, golf balls were made out of beech wood.

The sentence is correct as written. The subject is “Originally, golf balls” and the predicate is “were made out of beech wood.”

Marie Curie’s personal effects such as her notebook are still radioactive after 100 years her body was placed in a lead-lined coffin because of its level of radiation contamination.

This is a run-on sentence and requires a period. It should read, “Marie Curie’s personal effects, such as her notebook, are still radioactive after 100 years. Her body was placed in a lead-lined coffin because of its level of radiation contamination.”

Amphibians, such as salamanders and frogs, can breathe through their skin.

The sentence is correct as written. The simple subject is “amphibians,” and the simple predicate is “can breathe.”

In Britain, a 2008 survey found that 58 percent of teens believed that Sherlock Holmes was a real person only 20 percent of teens believed Winston Churchill was a real person.

To correctly punctuate the run-on sentence, you need to add a period, so it reads, “In Britain, a 2008 survey found that 58 percent of teens believed that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. Only 20% percent of teens believed Winston Churchill was a real person.”

"Mars & Murrie's," which are the last names of the candy's founders.

This sentence needs a subject. The corrected sentence would read, “M&M's stands for 'Mars & Murrie's,' which are the last names of the candy's founders.”

When a flag is flown upside-down, it is a sign of extreme distress.

When a flag is flown upside-down, it is a sign of extreme distress.

In 1908, four years before the Oreo.

This is a fragment. It should read, “Hydrox cookies came out in 1908, four years before the Oreo.”

Mister Rogers became a celebrity captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 his long-running show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, had nearly 600 episodes filmed.

This run-on needs a period to make it correct. “Mister Rogers became a celebrity captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991. His long-running show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, had nearly 600 episodes filmed.

In May 2006, an Australian citizen tried to sell New Zealand on eBay with an opening bid of one penny bids went up to $3,000 before eBay closed it for a violation of policy.

To make a compound sentence out of a run-on sentence, you can add a comma plus the word “and.” It would look like this, “In May 2006, an Australian citizen tried to sell New Zealand on eBay with an opening bid of one penny, and bids went up to $3,000 before eBay closed it for a violation of policy.

"Brassiere" comes from a French word meaning “child’s vest or bodice” and was shortened to “bra” in the 1930s.

This statement is a complete sentence. The subject is "Brassiere," and the complete predicate is “comes from a French word meaning ‘child’s vest or bodice’ and was shortened to ‘bra’ in the 1930s.”

A real Welsh pirate became the lieutenant governor of Jamaica.

This sentence is correct.

On New Year’s Eve, people in Italy wear red underwear for good luck people in Latin America prefer yellow for prosperity and happiness.

This sentence is a run-on that needs to be broken in two like this, “On New Year’s Eve, people in Italy wear red underwear for good luck. People in Latin America prefer yellow for prosperity and happiness.”

A string on boxes of animal crackers.

The reason there was a string on boxes of animal crackers is so the container could hang on a Christmas tree.

The only state that can be typed using only one row of keys is “Alaska.”

This is a complete sentence, but it can be tricky separating the subject and predicate. The complete subject is “the only state that can be typed using only one row of keys,” and the complete predicate is “is ‘Alaska.’”

Two billion people as part of their normal diet.

Insects are eaten by two billion people as part of their normal diet.

They launched the first cat in space in 1963, and it was named Felix.

This is a complete sentence. It uses a comma and "and" to separate the two independent clauses.

Surgeons in the Middle Ages doubled as barbers this is why the barber pole is red and white—for blood and bandages.

This run-on needs to have a period added. It should read, “Surgeons in the Middle Ages doubled as barbers. This is why the barber pole is red and white—for blood and bandages.”

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