Grammar Quiz #9: Dangling Modifiers

By Mark Nichol

Revise each of the following sentences so that the phrase that modifies the main clause correctly relates to the subject of the sentence.

1. As a key magazine for coverage of national policy issues, you are cordially invited to a special event.

2. . . . the American Cancer Society. Back in 1913, when it was formed, cancer was a lesser threat for most Americans.

3. Living in Washington, DC, my path crossed hers once again.

4. As a student representative of ABC, the association would like to give you another opportunity to expand your leadership within our organization.

5. Tired and angry, my frustration reached a breaking point.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: As a key magazine for coverage of national policy issues, you are cordially invited to a special event.
Correct : As a key magazine for coverage of national policy issues, we cordially invite you to a special event.

This sentence identifies the reader as a magazine. In order for the sentence to make sense, the subject should be we, not you.

2.
Original: . . . the American Cancer Society. Back in 1913, when it was formed, cancer was a lesser threat for most Americans.
Correct : . . . the American Cancer Society. Back in 1913, when the organization was formed, cancer was a less significant threat for most Americans.

The original sentence implies that it refers not to the American Cancer Society but to cancer, so the referent for it must be clarified.

3.
Original: Living in Washington, DC, my path crossed hers once again.
Correct : While I was living in Washington, DC, my path crossed hers once again.

This remark seems to place Washington, DC, as the residence of the person’s path, and there is no antecedent for my that identifies the person. The person must be specifically referred to in the dependent clause with the pronoun I.

4.
Original: As a student representative of ABC, the association would like to give you another opportunity to expand your leadership within our organization.
Correct : The ABC would like to give you, as a student representative of the association, another opportunity to expand your leadership within our organization.

The association, not the recipient of the communication, is identified as a student representative of ABC. The modifier must be relocated after the subject for the sentence to make sense.

5.
Original: Tired and angry, my frustration reached a breaking point.
Correct : Tired and angry, I felt my frustration reach a breaking point.

The writer’s frustration, rather than the writer, is erroneously described as tired and angry.

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1 Response to “Grammar Quiz #9: Dangling Modifiers”

  • TheBluebird11

    The way I understood the first example, it was like “As [the editor of] a key magazine for coverage of national policy issues, you are cordially invited to a special event.” Maybe I misunderstood the intent, and that is exactly why wording is so important. But context would have helped.

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