What Is A Complete Sentence?
There are three criteria for a sentence to be viewed as complete. It must contain a subject, it must contain a verb, and it must be a complete thought. A subject is a person, place, or thing that the sentence focuses on. A verb is the actions being done by or to the subject. Completing the thought is important because if one does not complete their thought, then the sentence will make no sense. For example, if someone said “Jerry asked”, it would make no sense without context; however, if they said “Jerry asked for a cookie” then the thought is completed and a complete sentence is formed.
It is important that your writing is made up of complete sentences. In fact, it is essential that your writing only has complete sentences. So a complete sentence has a subject and a verb, and it is a complete thought.
“Toby went to school.” “Toby” is the subject, “went” is the verb, and it’s a complete thought. If someone said to you that Toby went to school, you wouldn’t be asking for more information. It is a complete thought.
“Instead of riding a horse.” We don’t see a subject here. We just see the verb riding, so we already know it’s not a complete sentence. There is no subject. In addition, it’s not a complete thought. If someone said to you, “Instead of riding a horse,” you’d be left asking for more information. It seems like this should go on longer and give you more information that it does.
“Shelby rode her horse instead of.” “Shelby” is the subject and “rode” is the verb. We have a subject and a verb; we’re looking good. Wait a second. This is not a complete thought. Again, it seems like this should go on farther than it does and give you more information. If it just said, “Shelby rode her horse,” that would be fine, but, since it says “instead of”, this phrase needs to continue on and give you more information. This is also not a complete sentence.
Again, remember the three elements of a complete sentence: a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.