Posted by: Jack Henry | May 25, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Dangling Modifiers

Hello, good morning, greetings!

Last week I covered misplaced modifiers (descriptive words or phrases that are misplaced in a sentence so that they cause ambiguity), and as promised, this time we’re looking at dangling modifiers. A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that has nothing to modify. It’s just dangling, unattached to anything else in the sentence. Typically, these sentences are missing a subject (the person or thing doing the action). I know, I know. We need examples!

  • Walking through the park, the squirrels were chattering.

The phrase “walking through the park” is a dangling modifier. It’s not modifying anything. Who is walking through the park? Here is one way you could rewrite the sentence:

Walking through the park, Darius heard the squirrels chattering.

  • Waiting in line, the time went by slowly.

Who is waiting in line? For whom is time going by slowly? Here’s a possible revision:

While Merced was waiting in line, the time went by slowly.

  • While driving to the park, my dog stuck his head out of the window.

I think you’ve got this figured out. We’re missing the subject—the person driving the car.

While I was driving to the park, my dog stuck his head out of the window.

The takeaway is to make sure that your sentences have a clear subject. Don’t leave us dangling.

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

Pronouns she/her/hers

9660 Granite Ridge Drive, San Diego CA 92123

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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