PS9: Writing

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Ling. 501
PS 9 Writing
due 4/7/ 09
I. You were probably taught that you are supposed to write in complete sentences, and
avoid “sentence fragments.” You were probably also taught that “a sentence is a
complete thought.” Can you think of an example where 1 complete thought is expressed
by 2 sentences, or where something other than a sentence expresses a complete thought?
So how are you supposed to tell what a “complete sentence” is?
Linguists define “sentence” as a Subject, tense and a predicate. But as we discussed
during the syntax part of the class, even if you aren’t sure what a predicate is, you can
apply the following exercise to determine whether a string of words is a sentence or a
“fragment.”: If you can make the sting of words into a grammatical question without
adding any words except do/did/does, it’s a sentence. (note: This won’t work if the string
of words is already a question….)
For example: We were sleeping  Were we sleeping?
The inn on the hill takes reservations.  Does the inn on the hill take
reservations?
When Mary left, Bill was heartbroken.  When Mary left, was Bill
heartbroken?But:
While we were sleeping.  *????Were while we sleeping?
Because I said so. 
*??? Did because I say so?
Use this test to determine whether the following are complete sentences: Find the first
auxiliary verb, and that word to the beginning. If there’s no auxiliary, put do/did/does at
the beginning of the sentence and make the verb “bare.” Does it sound like English?
1.
2.
3,
4.
5.
6.
The teacher’s long boring lectures have been putting Kathryn to sleep.
Actually, Tony plays the guitar.
In your dreams.
Ducks can quack.
Sitting on the dock of the bay.
Whatever you want.
II. Actually, famous authors use sentence fragments all the time. Below is a passage
from The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx. Identify the fragments and rewrite the
passage making all fragments into complete sentences. Then, try to figure out when
exactly it’s ok to use fragments. (Try to be more precise than “When you’re being poetic
or expressive”
From The Shipping News:
The next evening Quoyle was there, gripping paper bags. The front of Partridge’s house,
the empty street drenched in amber light. A gilded hour. In the bags a packet of
imported Swedish crackers, bottles of red, pink and white wine, foil-wrapped triangles of
foreign cheeses. Some kind of hot, juggling music on the other side of Partridge’s door
that thrilled Quoyle.