Dangling Modifiers: Definition & Examples

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The word "dangling" refers to hanging or swinging loosely. And "modifier" stands for a person or thing that makes partial or minor changes to something. So a dangling modifier is a modifier (word or phrase that modifies) which makes the meaning of a sentence to swing (incomplete).

According to English Grammar, a dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence. In other words, if a modifier (word or phrase) modifies (changes the meaning) different word rather than the targeted one, it will be called dangling modifier.

If the modifier of a sentence doesn’t modify the correct Noun or Pronoun, then the meaning of the sentence can be changed.


Incorrect: Hearing the good news, happiness was mine.
Or Hearing the good news, happy I was.

The modifier of this sentence should modify the word ‘I’ rather than ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’ as hearing is done by the person (I).

Correct: Hearing the good news, I was happy.

There are some particular grammatical structures or phrases or clauses in which dangling modifiers occur. Such as:

1. Present Participle or Participle Phrase

Incorrect: Entering the room, the light was off.

The subject of this sentence indicates that ‘the light’ is entering the room which is not correct.

Correct: Entering the room, I found the light off.

More Example:

Incorrect: Walking in the park, a snake bit him.
Correct: Walking in the park, he was bitten by a snake.
Incorrect: Walking through the forest, the moon appeared like a luminous ball.
Correct: Walking through the forest, the traveler saw the moon above the trees.
Incorrect: Crossing the street, a car almost struck us.
Correct: As we crossed the street, a car almost struck us.
Incorrect:  Flying out the window, he grabbed the papers.
Correct: Flying out the window, the papers were grabbed by him.
Incorrect:  Plunging into the water, the drowning child was rescued.
Correct: Plunging into the water, he rescued the drowning child.
Incorrect: Not looking where he was going, a car hit him.
Correct: Not looking where he was going, he was hit by a car.
Incorrect: Knowing little algebra, solving the problem was difficult.
Correct: Knowing little algebra, I found it difficult to solve the problem.

2. Past Participle or Past Participle Phrase

Incorrect: Tired and exhausted, a nap was taken by the passer-by.
Correct: Tired and exhausted, the passer-by took a nap.

Incorrect: Worn out by a long walk, she fainted.
Correct: As she worn out by a long walk, she fainted.

3. Perfect Participle (having+v3)/ (having been +v3)

Incorrect: Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed.
Correct: Having arrived late for practice, the team captain needed a written excuse.

Incorrect: Having been served lunch, the problem was discussed by the members of the committee.
Correct: Having been served lunch, the committee members discussed the problem.

4. Adjective Phrase

Incorrect: Young and inexperienced, the task seemed easy to me.
Correct: Young and inexperienced, I thought the task easy.

Incorrect: Old and pervert, fourth marriage seemed not to criticize to him.
Correct: Old and pervert, he didn’t think the fourth marriage to be criticizing. 

5. Reduced Adverbial Clause:

Incorrect: While walking in the garden, her leg was broken.
Correct: While she was walking in the garden, she broke her leg.

Incorrect: While going to class, a dog bit me.
Correct: While going to class, I was bitten by a dog.

Incorrect: While biking home before the storm, an accident had occurred to Jahan.
Correct: While biking home before the storm, Jahan had an accident.

More examples:

Incorrect: After jumping off a boat, a shark bites the man.
Correct: After jumping off a boat, the man was bitten by a shark.
Incorrect: Unlike most birds, there are no feathers on vultures’ heads and necks.
Correct: Unlike most birds, vultures do not have feathers on their heads and necks.
Incorrect: Being in haste, the door was left open.
Correct: Being in haste, she left the door open.
Incorrect: Smaller and flatter than an orange, it’s easy to peel a tangerine and to separate its sections.
Correct: Smaller and flatter than an orange, a tangerine is easy to peel and its sections separate readily.
Incorrect: Similar to the floppy disk, data is stored in the hard disk in sectors.
Correct: Similar to the floppy disk, the hard disk stores data in sectors.


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