A breath unit is a group of words that sort of make sense in terms of meaning. You can say them easily without taking a breath. 

    • If a breath unit sounds okay, it’s usually a sentence.
    • If a breath unit sounds strange, it’s usually a fragment.

Punctuate with your Ears, not your Eyes

It’s important that you listen to language rather than look at it.  It is how breath units sound and not what they look like that determines if they are sentences or fragments.

Sentences Activity 1

Read the following aloud or have someone read them to you.  Don’t think about their meaning. Just listen.  Circle the number of breath units that sound okay.   

  1. The woman sat in a tree.
  2. Jack climbed the hill.
  3. The pie was delicious.
  4. When the cake was baked.
  5. If you want to take a nap.
  6. We are going soon.
  7. The fan hummed.
  8. The building was newly painted.
  9. After Sheila asked her mom.
  10. I have a pet raccoon.
  11. The cow jumped over the moon.
  12. Although the baboon frowned.
  13. She’s a terrific cook.
  14. Jennifer was reading a book.
  15. A snake hid in the grass.
  16. My wallet is missing!
  17. That pencil needs sharpening.
  18. Down the stairs.
  19. Sally swam.
  20. This towel is wet.
  21. Yesterday I started school.
  22. Math is easy.
  23. If I could go.
  24. This pie tastes awful!
  25. I hope you choke on it.
  26. Last Wednesday.
  27. It’s getting late.
  28. We have to paint the house next year.
  29. Jack jumped.
  30. Samantha ate all the oranges.
  31. Playing with the dog.
  32. I’ll go if I can.
  33. Tuesday we will see the show.
  34. How are you?
  35. I’m fine.
  36. Somewhere here.
  37. It smells musty in here!
  38. When will she arrive?
  39. They will be here tomorrow.
  40. Jennifer joked with Jackie.
  41. The soldier hiding behind a rock.
  42. All of the ships in the fleet.
  43. The man in the third seat.
  44. Pansy likes to bake.
  45. Saturday we went to the beach.
  46. We went to the beach Saturday.
  47. He slept all day.
  48. A plane flew overhead.
  49. Whenever we go swimming at the lake.

Johnny phoned last night.