Well, this is why I need a linguist.
I’ve just read Katharine’s “Can you spot the sentence fragment?” post.
For me, the first fragment is easy:
Though I did snap at friends, abruptly accessing huge depths of fury I wouldn’t have thought I possessed.
That’s a fragment because “though” is a subordinator. Coming before “I did snap at friends…” it turns a complete sentence into a subordinate clause:
|complete sentence||I went home|
|subordinate clause (or fragment)||although I went home|
|complete sentence||I did snap at friends, abruptly accessing huge depths of fury I wouldn’t have thought I possessed|
|subordinate clause (or fragment)||though I did snap at friends, abruptly accessing huge depths of fury I wouldn’t have thought I possessed|
But I’m having a big problem with the second fragment, which is that it “feels” like there are two other fragments in Katie’s post, not just one.
From this weekend’s New York Times Magazine
That’s obvious (no verb) — but, to me, this sounds like a fragment, too:
At which point you realize, say, that it doesn’t express one more advantage to Adderall, but rather that it brings up the first of three downsides.
I say “sounds like a fragment” because I write by ear — never learned formal grammar beyond 4th grade or thereabouts (and, no, learning grammar in Spanish class doesn’t help. Not really.) So my rule for complete versus incomplete is whether a string of words sounds complete or incomplete.
“At which point you realize, say, that it doesn’t express one more advantage…” sounds incomplete to me, and the reason it sounds incomplete to me is that opening “at which point.”
Is “at which point” a subordinator, too?
And if it is, how do we know?
Katharine knows the answers to all these things.
It’s a very strange thing, trying to make unconscious knowledge conscious.
The minute you try, you lose your sense of conviction.
Always happens with spelling. If you really think about how to spell a word — consciously think about it — it slips away.
Try consciously thinking about how to spell “Hoover v— cleaner” instead of just writing it down, on automatic pilot, the way we normally do.1
Now that I’ve thought about Katie’s at which point sentence, I’m completely mystified.
1. OK, I admit: I can’t spell vacuum unconsciously, either, not with any reliability. But I really can’t spell it if I think about it. ↩