A Guide to Recognizing & Fixing Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers add an extra layer of complexity that detracts from the clarity of content. Frequent appearances of a dangling modifier can indicate a lack of coherence or clarity in your writing. It is best to avoid these scenarios. This article will go over dangling modifiers and provide valuable tips for recognizing and fixing them.

What is a Dangling Modifier?

One of the common errors people make when writing is leaving a modifier dangling. This means that a modifier is trailing in a sentence without an understandable link.

As a dangling modifier, an adverb or adjective has no effect on the intended noun or subject since there is no subject. The dangling modifier is attached to the wrong part of a sentence or paragraph and does not modify the intended word. This common problem occurs most often when the adverb or participle is used as a verb.

A dangling modifier is a grammatical error that can happen in a sentence. It is usually one that modifies the wrong part of the sentence. Dangling modifiers are features of writing that is unclear, incoherent, or unmemorable.

Examples of Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers can make a sentence unreadable since they emphasize the wrong part of the sentence. They can also easily confuse the reader’s understanding of what the author is trying to say.

Here are a few dangling modifiers:

  • To become successful in life, hard work and persistence must be displayed.
  • Returning from school, a car hit her.
  • Coming home late, the room was dark.
  • To pass your exams, hard work is necessary.

Tips for Recognizing Dangling Modifiers in Your Writing

A dangling modifier is a word or clause that doesn’t seem to have a clear connection with the other parts of its sentence. This is often the result of a sentence that’s been split up, or a sentence turned upside down. Dangling modifiers can be tricky to spot, but with a bit of practice, you may be able to avoid them in the future. Your sentence will have no dangling modifiers if you keep to the following tips.

  • Read each sentence individually. Ensure that your sentence has the introductory phrase first, followed by the subject of the main clause.
  • Identify the subject being modified. Check to see that the introductory phrase is modifying a subject. The introductory phase becomes a dangling modifier if the sentence does not clearly show the subject being modified. For instance,

Returning from school, a car hit her (Dangling Modifier)

Returning from school, Hope was hit by a car (Correct)

  • Make sure the modified subject is appropriate. Ensure that the subject of the main clause after the comma matches what the introductory phrase is supposed to be modifying.

How to Fix Dangling Modifiers

Most authors don’t realize they’re writing dangling modifiers until they see a phrase and can’t tell what word they’ve been trying to modify. Overall, dangling modifiers should be fixed because they can be pretty confusing. The following tips will guide you on how to fix dangling modifiers and create a coherent and correct sentence.

1. Start the main clause with a subject.

A dangling modifier mostly does not have a subject in the main clause. Fix a dangling modifier by focusing on the second part of the sentence (the main clause). Rewrite the main clause so that it begins with the subject being modified.

For instance;

To become successful in life, hard work and persistence must be displayed. (Dangling modifier)

To become successful in life, one must display hard work and persistence. (Correct sentence)

2. Revise the modifier phrase and insert a subject in it.

You can fix a dangling modifier by focusing on the first part of the sentence and leaving the main clause the way it is. Do this by inserting a suitable subject in the introductory phrase.

For example,

While returning from school, a car hit her. (Dangling modifier)

While Hope was returning from school, a car hit her. (Correct Sentence)

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A dangling modifier is a phrase that makes no grammatical sense when you read it in context. It appears in the wrong part of a sentence so that it does not modify the word it is intended for.

Dangling modifiers is a type of English grammar error that can be pretty embarrassing. It is best to learn how to identify these errors and fix them before publishing your piece of writing. The tips in this article will guide you through identifying and fixing dangling modifiers.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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