A complete sentence has three characteristics:
- First, it begins with a capital letter.
- In addition, it includes an end mark—either a period [ . ], question mark [ ? ], or exclamation point [ ! ].
- Most importantly, the complete sentence must contain at least one main clause. A COMPLETE SENTENCE contains an independent subject and verb and expresses a complete thought.
Subject + Verb = Complete Sentence
Check out these examples:
The banana rotting at the bottom of Jimmy's book bag has soaked his biology notes with ooze.
If a Subject and Verb exists in the sentence, you can attach whatever other sentence elements you need. Look at the additions to the main clause below. All of the additions keep the original main clause complete.
A bumblebee flew into Peter's open mouth.
Buzzing around the picnic table, a bumblebee flew into Peter's open mouth.
A bumblebee flew into Peter's open mouth, stinging the poor boy's tongue, which swelled up as big and as blue as an eggplant.
Because it smelled the peach-flavored bubble gum, a bumblebee flew into Peter's open mouth.
A bumblebee flew into Peter's open mouth and tickled the poor boy's tonsils.
Avoid an accidental fragment.
Sometimes you might begin a group of words with a capital letter, then conclude with an end mark, but forget to insert a main clause anywhere in the mix. You are missing a subject or a verb. When this happens, you have written a fragment, a major error in writing. Read the examples that follow:
Hungry sharks on the surface of the waves. No verb = a fragment.
Corrected Sentence: Hungry sharks flashed on the surface of the waves.
Spilled the hot sauce all over his new suede shoes. No subject = a fragment
Corrected Sentence: Leonardo spilled the hot spaghetti sauce all over his new suede shoes.