Dangling Modifier examples. How to fix them?

What is a dangling modifier?

Dangling modifier definition: a dangling modifier is a modifier (a word or a phrase) that doesn’t modify anything in a sentence; it misses the word or words it intends to modify or can possibly modify.

A dangling modifier just dangles or hangs in a sentence without modifying its subject. It is also known as a hanging modifier. Unlike misplaced modifiers, dangling modifiers can’t be fixed by simply placing them next to the word/words they modify. Why not? Because the sentences they are in don’t have the subject they intend to modify.

Imagine it’s your wedding, and you are sitting next to someone (the person you thought you are marrying). But later on, you find out it’s your cousin sister Sandhya, and your fiance is not even present there. You, as a modifier, don’t have the subject you want to modify. The whole event is corrupted. Relate it with a dangling modifier. The same thing happens with it too.

What is a modifier in English?

A modifier in English is a word or a group of words that modifies (describes) another word in a sentence.

Dangling modifier example

Having lost the job, the house had to be sold.

When a sentence starts with an introductory modifier, the modifier modifies the subject of the sentence (what comes just after it). In this sentence, Having lost the job is an introductory modifier (a participle phrase) that appears to modify the subject of the sentence THE HOUSE. But can the house (an object) really do an action? Can it lose a job? It can’t, right? And there is nothing else in the sentence that can be modified. So, the modifier becomes dangling: hanging in the sentence without the word or words it intends to modify.

So how to correct the sentence? Let’s find out!

Dangling modifier examples
Dangling modifier examples

How to correct a dangling modifier?

There are two ways to correct a dangling modifier:

1. Add the subject of the dangling modifier!

The easiest way to correct a dangling modifier is to simply add the subject of the dangling modifier in the sentence.

  • Having lost the job, the house had to be sold.
    Correction: Having lost the job, he had to sell the house.

We have added ‘he‘ to the sentence. Now, the modifier is describing the subject he; it’s telling us in what state he had to sell the action. He, having lost the job, had to sell the house.

2. Change the dangling modifier into a dependent clause!

The second way to correct a dangling modifier is to change the modifying phrase or word into a clause. In other words, add the subject of the modifier. Let me show you how.

  • Having lost the job, the house had to be sold.
    Correction: After he lost the job, the house had to be sold.

We have changed the participle phrase into a dependent clause. The sentence perfectly makes sense.


Examples of dangling modifiers

Before going out in the rain, some umbrellas must be carried.

(Before going out in the rain is the introductory phrase. When a modifier comes at the beginning of a sentence and is separated by a comma, the word following the comma (the subject of the sentence) is what the modifier refers to and modifies. The modifier is dangling; some umbrellas (the subject) is what’s getting modified. But the sentence does not make any sense. Can umbrellas go out? They are not living beings. So, we need to have a subject that can perform the action in the modifier. Let’s correct it.)

Correction:

  • Before going out in the rain, we must carry some umbrellas.
  • Before we go out in the rain, some umbrellas must be carried.

Now, ‘we’ is the subject of the modifier. We can go out. You can replace it with any other pronoun or person’s name.


Inspired by the life of Mike Tyson, this movie was made as a tribute.

(Inspired by the life of Mike Tyson is the dangling modifier; it does not modify anything in the sentence. The movie is getting modified wrongly. Can a movie be inspired? No, it’s not a human being.)

Correction:

  • Inspired by the life of Mike Tyson, Max made this movie as a tribute.
  • As we were Inspired by the life of Mike Tyson, this movie is made as a tribute.

Unhappy and disappointed, the trip to Bali was canceled.

(Can a trip be unhappy and disappointed? The dangling modifier appears to modify the wrong noun, and the sentence does not have the subject the modifier intends to modify.)

Correction:

  • Unhappy and disappointed, we canceled the trip to Bali.
  • Because we were unhappy and disappointed, the trip to Bali was canceled.

With a heavy heart, the gift was returned to its owner.

(The gift can’t have a heavy heart. The subject of this dangling subject can’t be a thing; it has to be a human being.)

Correction:

  • With a heavy heart, Ron had to return the gift to its owner.

To make your employees happy, monthly bonuses should be given.

(Can the monthly bonuses perform an action? There is nothing in the sentence that the modifier is modifying; it is simply dangling in there. Let’s give the modifier something to modify.)

Correction:

  • To make your employees happy, companies should give monthly bonuses.

How do you identify a dangling modifier in a sentence?

Dangling modifiers always come at the beginning of a sentence. Generally, they are participles phrases, infinitive phrases, or prepositional phrases. More often than not, dangling modifiers appear in the form of a participle phrase.

Steps to identify a dangling modifier in a sentence:

1. The sentence starts with an introductory phrase (dangling modifier) and is followed by a comma.

2. The subject of the sentence (what comes after the comma) gets modified incorrectly. The sentence will not have anything that the modifier can modify or intends to modify.

Examples:-

  • Thinking about the exams, he slept on the book. ✔️
  • Thinking about the exams, his eyes starting closing. ❌

Both the examples start with an introductory modifier (a present participle phrase). In the first example, the modifier has its subject HE. It’s describing that. But in the second example, the modifier seems to modify the subject HIS EYES. But his eyes can’t be described by the modifier; his eyes can’t think. So, it’s working as a dangling modifier in the second example. There is nothing else that can be shifted near to the modifier and correct the sentence. The sentence has to be rearranged.

More examples of dangling modifiers

Dangling modifier example 1: While playing football, his legs got injured. ❌

Corrections:

  • While playing football, he got his legs injured. ✔️
  • While he was playing football, her legs got injured. ✔️

Dangling modifier example 2: Helping a lady find her children, the train left the station. ❌

Corrections:

  • Helping a lady find her children, I saw the train leaving the station. ✔️
  • While I was helping a lady find her children, the train left the station. ✔️

Dangling modifier example 3: Without knowing the place, it was difficult to get there. ❌

Corrections:

  • Without knowing the place, I found it difficult to get there. ✔️
  • Since I did not know the place, it was difficult to get there.✔️

Dangling modifier example 4: Not having done the research properly, the experiment failed dramatically. ❌

Corrections:

  • Not having done the research properly, we got the experiment failed dramatically.✔️
  • Because the research was not done properly, the experiment failed dramatically. ✔️

Dangling modifier example 5: After finishing the papers, the school will close. ❌

Corrections:

  • After finishing the papers, we will close the school. ✔️
  • After we finish the papers, the school will close. ✔️

Dangling modifier example 6: Requiring more employees in the company, the advertisement budget was increased. ❌

Corrections:

  • Requiring more employees in the company, the company increased the advertisement budget. ✔️
  • Because more employees were needed in the company, the advertisement budget was increased. ✔️

Here is my YouTube video that explains dangling modifiers:

For more examples of dangling modifiers, refer to chompchomp.

So, that’s all about dangling modifiers. I am sure my smart brains have understood the topic and will be able to identify dangling modifiers in a sentence and fix them. Feel free to help people by sharing the post with them! See you in the next class! I’m out! ūüėČ

Leave a Comment