Speaking and listening are vital to effective writing and editing. Many experts say that one of the best ways to find errors is to read your writing aloud. Your ear monitors what your eye may overlook. After all, it’s fairly common to omit words as you type and when you read silently, your mind inserts the missing word. When you read aloud, however, you hesitate at the point of a missing word. Silently read the sentence below: 

Proofread your writing to see if you any words out.

This sentence was written by William Safire, the former author of the “On Language” column for the New York Times Magazine. Next, read the same sentence aloud:

Proofread your writing to see if you any words out.

photo of two small signs on an outside wall that say “No Ball Games” and “No Loitering.”

Source: Proofread, People! Jeff Youngstrom, Flickr

To reinforce his message, Safire deliberately omitted “left.” You may have noticed it was easier to follow Safire’s advice when you read his sentence aloud.

A sentence fragment also doesn’t sound right when you read it aloud. English statements go down in pitch and volume at the end. If your voice doesn’t naturally follow that downward trend, you may have written a fragment.

In the next exercise, you’ll identify sentence fragments. Crank up your “grammar phone” as you read each sentence in the paragraph aloud. If your voice drops down at the period, it’s probably a complete thought; if your voice levels off or rises, the sentence might be a fragment.

Instructions: (1) Click the link below. (2) Read each sentence in the paragraph aloud. (3) Determine if what you have read is a complete sentence or a fragment, and click “Sentence?” or “Fragment?” under the paragraph box. (4) After you receive a “correct” or “incorrect” response, scroll down the feedback page and click “Go to the next sentence.” (5) Continue the exercise, repeating steps 2–4, until you have responded to each sentence in the paragraph. When you’re finished, go to the next section in this lesson.

Click here to begin.