Your Teachers Were Wrong: Why It’s Okay to Use Incomplete Sentences and Sentence Fragments

Peppering your writing with incomplete sentences will keep readers of your marketing materials more engaged. In other words, they’ll pay more attention to what you have to say. Seriously. (That last statement was an incomplete sentence.)

Good writing needs drama

Too many marketing materials are downright boring, because the writer doesn’t want to embarrass himself by making any grammatical mistakes. If you want people to read what you have to say, you have to challenge the norms and keep your readers on their toes. And that calls for mixing long and short sentences together in the same paragraph. Even incomplete short sentences. (That was another one.)

why-it-is-ok-to-use-incomplete-sentencesYes, your teachers always taught you that was a no-no – and you have the papers with red marks to prove it. But if you’d taken creative writing classes in college, your professor would have most likely encouraged the practice. If you worked in an advertising agency, they would demand it.

It’s like music or painting. First, you’re taught the rules. Then, you’re taught how to take things to the next level by breaking some of those rules.

The definition of an incomplete sentence

A complete sentence includes three things:

  • A subject (a person, place or thing).
  • A verb (an action word).
  • A complete thought.

An incomplete sentence does not include one or more of those things. It’s as simple as that.

How to use the incomplete sentence

A sentence can be long and still be incomplete. But to create the desired effect, it should be short. Somewhere between two and five words.

By combining long and short sentences, you inspire the reader to keep reading. After plowing through a long sentence, a short sentence can quickly put an idea into perspective, or just give the reader a breather.

You can also eliminate any long sentences from a paragraph and group a bunch of short sentences together. That’ll grab your readers’ attention.

By adding this kind of writing variety to your marketing materials, you’ll not only capture the attention of more readers, but they’ll better remember what you have to say.

Relax and have fun with it. Incorporate the idea it into your writing. But also avoid using it too much.

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By |December 11th, 2014|Copywriting|0 Comments
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