Grammar Tip: Dangling Modifiers
The term may sound a bit unusual, but a dangling modifier is simply a word or phrase that modifies the wrong subject in a sentence. This mismatch occurs because the implied subject is missing. The phrase is therefore “left dangling” (hanging loosely).
The resulting sentence can be unclear and may even be unintentionally humorous.
This grammar tip describes dangling modifiers and offers tips on how to find them—before your readers do!
But don't worry—you do not need to know these terms to analyze the following examples.
Each example is accompanied by at least one corrected sentence that shows the true grammatical subject and the implied subject. Dangling modifiers can typically be corrected in many ways.
Dangling Participles (end in “ing” or “ed”)
(Who is using the data? Implied subject = we/researchers; grammatical subject = the effects)
(What is based on the results? Implied subject = conclusion; grammatical subject = we)
Dangling Gerunds (end in “ing”)
(Who did the preparing? Implied subject = we/ researchers; grammatical subject = our focus)
Dangling Infinitives (include the word “to”)
(Who is going to investigate? Implied subject = we/researchers; grammatical subject = a series)
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