Dangling Modifiers Section 19
Dangling Modifiers • What they are… • Unpleasant things that don’t belong • But, in grammatical language they are phrases or elliptical clauses that don’t sensibly modify any other words in the sentence • Avoid dangling modifiers like the plague • Also, try to avoid hackneyed clichés…don’t follow my bad examples • Remember, avoid here doesn’t mean don’t do (at least, not necessarily), it means if it’s there then fix it • But, when you write just don’t do it
Dangling Modifiers • Avoid a dangling participial phrase • What do participial phrases do? • Yes, that’s right. They function as adjectives and modify nouns (most likely subjects of a sentence) • Sometimes a dangling phrase at the beginning of a sentence is simply misplaced • To fix that you move the phrase to a position after the word it modifies • However, most dangling phrases require you to reword the independent clause • Example: • Flying over the city, the skyscrapers could be clearly seen. • What is the dangling modifier? How do you fix it? • Flying over the city, we could clearly see the skyscrapers.
Dangling Modifiers • Avoid a dangling gerund phrase • Same rules as the previous slide apply • (There are a lot of do not's in this presentation huh?) • For example: • By using a good carnauba wax, your car will really shine. • Where is your gerund phrase? • What is it functioning as? • Why is it a dangling modifier? • How would you fix it? • By using a good carnauba wax, you can make your car really shine. • Good, now you have a person using the wax
Dangling Modifiers • Avoid a dangling infinitive phrase • For example: • To run a four-minute mile, excellent condition is required. • What’s wrong with this sentence? • To run a four-minute mile, one must be in excellent condition. • Now you have a person doing the running
Dangling Modifiers • Avoid a dangling elliptical clause • Since I know no one knows what an elliptical clause is, I’ll just tell you. • It’s an adverb clause in which the subject is understood • So, dangling elliptical clauses can happen when the understood subject of the elliptical clause is not the same as that of the independent clause • For example: • When one month old, my grandmother died. • What is the sentence really trying to say? • When I was one month old, my grandmother died. • Good, now the subjects are the same • While emptying the trash at the campground, a large possum startled me. • What wrong with this? • While emptying the trash at the campground, I was startled by a large possum. • Now subjects agree