Do Your Participles Dangle?

In my career as a proofreader and editor, I see these all the time. Heck, I’m sure I even write them now and again. If “dangling participle” (or “dangling modifier”) isn’t a phrase you hear very often–few of us do–then let me give you a few examples from the University of Bristol’s website:

1.) Driven to drink by her problems, we see how Janet will come to a sticky end.

This sentence would be all well and good except for the fact that “we” (the subject) aren’t driven to drink by Janet’s problems, Janet is. Here are another two:

2.) Flying south for the winter, I saw a huge flock of swallows.

Unless you’re a drone, it’s the swallows flying south, not you.

3.) Falling through the thin ice, the jogger dived into the lake to save the dog.

Good luck diving into a lake when you’ve already falling through the ice.

Another good one from Grammar Bytes:

4.) With a sigh of disappointment, the expensive dress was returned to the rack.

Yep, the dress is probably not sighing.

Now let’s see how we could remedy these danglers. These, of course, are suggestions. There are other correct answers too.

1.) Driven to drink by her problems, we see how Janet will come to a sticky end.

We saw how Janet, driven to drink by her problems, will come to a sticky end.

2.) Flying south for the winter, I saw a huge flock of swallows.

I saw a huge flock of swallows flying south for the winter.

3.) Falling through the thin ice, the jogger dived into the lake to save the dog.

The dog fell through the thin ice. The jogger dived into the lake to save it.

4.) With a sigh of disappointment, the expensive dress was returned to the rack.

With a sigh of disappointment, Gerri returned the expensive dress to the rack.

Now that you’ve got the hang of it, why don’t you give these exercises a try. Feel free to post your own examples of dangling participles in the comments.

 

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