Grammar Quiz #1: Dangling Participles

By Mark Nichol

All but one of the following sentences includes a dangling modifier. Revise as necessary:

1. Running consistently every day, the workouts steadily became easier.

2. Studying for her degree, there were times when she felt like giving up.

3. Rolling down the hill, my eyes widened as the truck came into view.

4. The Grand Canyon was the highlight, driving through the Southwest.

5. Knowing what was at stake, I prepared myself mentally for the ordeal.

Solutions

When a sentence includes a participial phrase — one that includes a participle, or a verb that modifies a noun or a noun phrase — the subject of the sentence must directly relate to the action in the phrase. Violations of this rule are called dangling participles (a form of dangling modifier), because the subject does not support the participle.

1.
Original: Running consistently every day, the workouts steadily became easier.
Correct : Running consistently every day, he found that the workouts steadily became easier.

A person must be specified as the doing the activity.

2.
Original: Studying for her degree, there were times when she felt like giving up.
Correct : Studying for her degree, she felt, at times, like giving up.

A phrase containing an expletive, or filler, such as there in “there were” is not the subject of the sentence; an actor must be specified at the head of the main clause.

3.
Original: Rolling down the hill, my eyes widened as the truck came into view.
Correct : Rolling down the hill, I stared with wide-open eyes as the truck came into view.

As in the first example, an actor must perform the activity.

4.
Original: The Grand Canyon was the highlight, driving through the Southwest.
Correct : The Grand Canyon was the highlight as we drove through the Southwest.

Even when the main clause begins the sentence, the participial phrase must name the actor.

5.
Original: Knowing what was at stake, I prepared myself mentally for the ordeal.
Correct : Knowing what was at stake, I prepared myself mentally for the ordeal.

This sentence correctly begins the main clause with the actor as the subject.

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2 Responses to “Grammar Quiz #1: Dangling Participles”

  • Sean

    #3 is no longer dangling, but I don’t think you used the actor you intended. 🙂 Who’s doing the rolling?

  • Agua Caliente

    Sean: Rolling my eyes at that one 😉 Maybe on a skateboard?

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