Grammar Quiz #24: Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

By Mark Nichol

A participial phrase is said to be “dangling” when the noun it is intended to modify is missing from the sentence. Similarly a modifier is said to be misplaced when it is separated from the word it modifies. Edit the following sentences to eliminate such errors.

1. Looking from my bedroom window, the horses frolicked in the meadow.

2. This bank accepts deposits from elementary school children of any size.

3. The professor made some astounding comments about politics rising from his desk.

4. The landlord told all the tenants he was raising their rent yesterday.

5. Oozing across the floor my mother gazed with dismay at the contents of the broken jars.

Answers and Explanations

In the sentence, “Coming out of the auditorium, a purse was lost,” the modifier is “Coming out of the auditorium,” but the word that follows it, “purse,” cannot be the intended noun. The sentence must be revised to provide a suitable noun for the modifier to refer to. For example, “Coming out the auditorium, Susan lost her purse.”

1.
Original: Looking from my bedroom window, the horses frolicked in the meadow.
Correct : Looking from my bedroom window, I watched the horses frolicking in the meadow.
2.
Original: This bank accepts deposits from elementary school children of any size.
Correct : This bank accepts deposits of any size from elementary school children.
3.
Original: The professor made some astounding comments about politics rising from his desk.
Correct : Rising from his desk, the professor made some astounding comments about politics.
4.
Original: The landlord told all the tenants he was raising their rent yesterday.
Correct : Yesterday the landlord told all the tenants he was raising their rent.
Alterna.: The landlord told all the tenants yesterday that he was raising their rent.
5.
Original: Oozing across the floor my mother gazed with dismay at the contents of the broken jars.
Correct : My mother gazed with dismay at the contents of the broken jars oozing across the floor.


3 Responses to “Grammar Quiz #24: Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers”

  • D.A.W.

    @Dana
    Well, the people who had written the broken English about “sandune” did listen to me and they did correct their writing in more than one way. For example, the article now says “sand dune”, and the preposition is corrected. I congratulated them!
    Do you want people to stick their heads in the sand dunes?

  • Dana

    @DAW: Dude, get a life!

  • D.A.W.

    A copy of my note of today to some uneducated foreigner who wrote about photos of a model posing among some sand dunes. I believe that the writer is from some island off the coast of Africa.

    NOT “Posing In Sandunes”, for several reasons. “Posing on the Sand Dunes” or “Posing among the Sand Dunes”. You’re dopey: “sandune” is not a word in the English language, and never “in” sand dunes, but “on” or “among” sand dunes. “In” would mean that she was swimming in the sand. Please learn some proper English.
    ——————————————————————————–
    These mistakes in using prepositions happen over and over again, and arrantly, among Americans, Britons, Canadians, South Africans, Aussies, and New Zealanders, too.
    It is also difficult to convince people around the world that these are not words in English: {sandune, sanddune, sand-dune, irregardless, and “their are”.}

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