Dangling modification is a type of misplaced modifier. It's a grammatical error in which a phrase at the beginning of a sentence doesn't have the right word to modify, so it ends up modifying the wrong part of the sentence. Dangling modifiers are usually in the form of a participle (verb ending in ing) or prepositional phrase. An introductory participial phrase is separated by commas, while an introductory prepositional phrase may or may not be set off by commas. A dangling modifier is an error in sentence structure that occurs when you write one part of a sentence so that it appears to modify the wrong word.
For example, My cat, having finished his breakfast, went out for a walk. This sentence begins with the participial phrase "Having finished…." This phrase seems to describe "cat" rather than "breakfast," which it modifies, so this sentence means that my cat had breakfast and then did something else. It should read, "My cat, having finished his breakfast, went out for a walk." Now let’s see dangling modifications and understand the basics with examples.
This sentence sounds like "you" is leaving the house, and something else should be done before that happens. Instead, what should come next in the sentence is a discussion of what will happen when you leave: "When you leave the house, you should make sure to turn off the stove."
This sentence sounds like "he" gained weight while watching TV. The subject of the sentence should be more clear, so there's no confusion about who did what: "He gained a lot of weight after watching TV all day."
In this sentence, it's unclear what Steve did in the process of finishing his dinner: "Steve left the house after having finished his dinner."
In this sentence, it sounds like the speaker is happy that Debbie forgot something: "Debbie forgot to take her umbrella with her, luckily."
In this sentence, it sounds like people loved getting head massages from Hannah, and she got a job offer as a result: "Combined with her experience at a spa resort, Her love for head massages convinced Hannah to become a masseuse."
In this sentence, the speaker is not directly involved in learning about dangling modifiers: "I'm learning about dangling modifiers at school."
When you're writing a paper or something that could be graded, it's best to avoid writing sentences that have misplaced or dangling modifiers. Writers can correct these errors by rewriting their sentences so that they are clearer and more precise. When you proofread your work for errors, look for both misplaced phrases and misplaced subjects so that the sentence makes sense when read correctly. Before submitting any written work, run through your document several times to catch errors like this one!
The following are dangling modifier examples of how to fix some of the above example sentences that had dangling modifiers.
This sentence should state that "he gained a lot of weight after watching TV all day."
Rewrite it like this: He gained a lot of weight after watching TV all day.
The subject of this sentence is now clear; instead, Steve left the house after having finished his dinner.
Rewrite it like this: After having finished his dinner, Steve left the house.
In this example sentence, there's no confusion about who forgot something and who was luckily reminded; Debbie forgot to take her umbrella with her, luckily.
Rewrite it like this: Luckily, Debbie remembered to take her umbrella with her.
In this example sentence, it's clear that both aspects of the subject were important in convincing Hannah to go back and get a degree in massage therapy.
Rewrite it like this: Her love for head massages convinced Hannah to become a masseuse after she gained experience from working at a spa resort."
In this example sentence, there is no one learning about dangling modifiers unless the speaker is also in school, so there's no reason for the speaker to be involved in this sentence at all.
Rewrite it like this: I'm learning about dangling modifiers in my English class."
We can see that not using adverbs is the main cause of dangling modifiers. If you are to spot a modifier, make sure it modifies what it intends to modify. Avoid creating sentences with dangling modifiers because they do not convey your intended meaning and quite often confuse readers. Knowing how to fix them requires you to go back to your papers or paragraphs or whatever documents need fixing, analyse your sentences for errors, rewrite them correctly, so there are no modifications issues, and proofread everything again before submitting the work for grading.
Carefully check your work for dangling modifiers. Make sure you know what they are and how to avoid them. If you can do this, then you will be on the way toward writing more precise sentences that convey your intended meaning more clearly. This leads to better grades, as long as you use proper grammar, or at least use a paper checking service or a tool like Grammarly before submitting any written work!
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