Dangling Modifiers

Wrong:  Having finished shopping, the grocery list had no more use.

Right:  Having finished shopping, I had no more use for the grocery list.


Basics
A modifier clearly and logically describes something.
A dangling modifier does not clearly and logically describe something.

A dangling modifier is often the result of a misused prepositional phrase.

By assigning a modifier to its appropriate subject, a dangling modifier can be avoided.


Wrongs and Rights
Wrong:  Moving the chair, a lot of dust was discovered.
Right:  Moving the chair, I discovered a lot of dust.

Wrong:  Once beaten, I removed the rug’s dust.
Right:  Once beaten, the rug’s dust was removed.

Wrong:  After simmering all afternoon, we had the chili ready.
Right:  After simmering all afternoon, the chili was ready.

Wrong:  To climb a mountain, shoes need to be sturdy.
Right:  To climb a mountain, sturdy shoes are needed.

Wrong:  When a child, my father gave me a bicycle.
Right:  When a child, I was given a bicycle by my father.

Wrong:  The test didn’t go well, not having studied enough.
Right:  The test didn’t go well, because I didn’t study enough.

Wrong:  The conversation continued for an hour talking about my concerns.
Wrong:  Talking about my concerns the conversation continued for an hour.
Wrong:  Talking about my concerns in the conversation took about an hour.
Right:  The conversation continued for an hour as I talked about my concerns.


Question

Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  Having gathered the materials, the construction project was completed.
(B)  Having gathered the materials, completion of construction was projected.
(C)  Having gathered the materials, the project of construction was completed.
(D)  Having gathered the materials, the workers completed the construction project.

Answer
(D)  Having gathered the materials, the workers completed the construction project.

Answer Process
Having gathered the materials is a prepositional phrase used to modify/describe the workers.


Question

Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  The project took all day coaxing everybody to pitch in.
(B)  Coaxing everybody to pitch in took the project all day.
(C)  The project took all day as I coaxed everybody to pitch in.
(D)  Coaxing everybody to pitch in the project took all day.

Answer
(C)  The project took all day as I coaxed everybody to pitch in.

Answer Process
The prepositional phrase as I coaxed everybody to pitch in is used to modify/describe why the project took all day.


Question

Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  After swimming in the cold water, a warm towel came in handy.
(B)  After swimming in the cold water as I came in handy for a warm towel.
(C)  After swimming in the cold water, it came in handy to have a warm towel.
(D)  After swimming in the cold water, I found that a warm towel came in handy.

Answer
(D)  After swimming in the cold water, I found that a warm towel came in handy.

Answer Process
After swimming in the the cold water is a prepositional phrase used to modify/describe I.


Practice – Questions
1.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  Having collected the money, the food was paid.
(B)  Having collected the money, paid for the food.
(C)  Having collected the money, the food paid the vendor.
(D)  Having collected the money, the vendor was paid for the food.

2.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  The task was difficult persevering with everyone.
(B)  Urging everyone to persevere was difficult for the task.
(C)  The task was difficult as I urged everyone to persevere.
(D)  Urging everyone to persevere, I was difficult.

3.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  After working in the hot sun, a cold drink was welcome.
(B)  After working in the hot sun as I welcomed a cold drink.
(C)  After working in the hot sun, it welcomed me a cold drink.
(D)  After working in the hot sun, I welcomed a cold drink.

4.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  The movie dragged for hours shifting in my seat.
(B)  The movie dragged for hours as I shifted in my seat.
(C)  Shifting in my seat, the movie dragged for hours.
(D)  Shifting in my seat dragged the movie for hours.

5.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  While playing at the beach, time flew.
(B)  Playing at the beach while time flew.
(C)  The beach flew while playing at the beach.
(D)  Time flew while I played at the beach.

6.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  Mowing the lawn, many blades of grass were chopped.
(B)  Mowing the lawn, I chopped many blades of grass.
(C)  Mowing the lawn as I chopped many blades of grass.
(D)  I chopped many blades of grass mowing the lawn.

7.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  Once washed, I made my car look like new.
(B)  Once washed as I made my car look like new.
(C)  Once washed, I made my car look.
(D)  Once washed, my car looked like new.

8.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  To bake a cake, a list of ingredients is made.
(B)  To bake a cake, I made a list of ingredients.
(C)  I made a list of ingredients baking a cake.
(D)  I baked a list of ingredients making a cake.

9.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  After cooking all day, the feast was served.
(B)  After cooking all day, I served the feast.
(C)  After cooking all day while I served the feast.
(D)  The feast was served as I cooked all day.

10.  Which of the following sentences uses correct grammar?
(A)  The entertainer didn’t receive applause, failing to be funny.
(B)  Funny, but the entertainer didn’t receive no applause.
(C)  The entertainer didn’t receive applause, because he failed to be funny.
(D)  The entertainer didn’t receive applause, not being funny.


Practice – Answers
1.  (D)  Having collected the money, the vendor was paid for the food.

2.  (C)  The task was difficult as I urged everyone to persevere.

3.  (D)  After working in the hot sun, I welcomed a cold drink.

4.  (B)  The movie dragged for hours as I shifted in my seat.

5.  (D)  Time flew while I played at the beach.

6.  (B)  Mowing the lawn, I chopped many blades of grass.

7.  (D)  Once washed, my car looked like new.

8.  (B)  To bake a cake, I made a list of ingredients.

9.  (B)  After cooking all day, I served the feast.

10. (C)  The entertainer didn’t receive applause, because he failed to be funny.

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