What to Do When a Dangling Participle Defies Revision
A dangling participle is a construction in which the participle, or verb, that follows the subject of a sentence is not associated with an introductory phrase, leaving the participle dangling. For example, in “As a client, we know this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements,” the subject “we” is identified in the introductory phrase (which modifies we) “as a client.”
But “as a client” modifies you, not we, and because we, not you, is the subject, that phrase is not appropriate at the head of the sentence. Often, such phrases can simply be relocated (with or without slight rewording) so that it is adjacent to the word it modifies, and the subject can begin the sentence.
However, in this case, each of several permutations is problematic:
In “We know, as one of our clients, that this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements,” the implication is that the party identified as “we” is one of its own clients.
“We know that, as one of our clients, this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements” implies that the new standard, not the person identified as “you,” is a client of “we.”
And “We know that you, as one of our clients, and your financial-reporting requirements may be affected by this new standard” suggests that being one of the clients of “we” is the cause of being affected by the new standard.
In this case, the best solution is probably to further distinguish the two components of this sentence—the statement that the reader is a client of the business that produced the message and the information about the implications of the new standard—in a revised and expanded statement such as this: “You are one of our valued clients, and we want to make sure you know that this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements.”
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