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This video discusses how to avoid dangling modifiers when beginning sentences with phrases.

Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

Words, phrases, and clauses that give extra information about other words, phrases, and clauses are called modifiers. 

It must be clear what a modifier describes. 

Misplaced and dangling modifiers modify

something that a writer or speaker does

not intend to modify. 


A sentence with a misplaced modifier

includes the modifier's intended "target",

but the modifier describes something else.  Compare the following sentences.

           My brother only  reads magazines.  --In this sentence, the word only modifies reads

                                                             This means that my brother does not write for,

                                                              edit, burn, or do anything else to magazines.

           My brother reads only  magazines.  --In this sentence, the word only modifies

                                                             magazines.  This means that my brother does not

                                                             read books, newspapers, or journals.

If the writer or speaker means to say that his/her brother reads magazines but not books, newspapers, or journals, the word only in the first sentence is a misplaced modifier.


Compare the following sentences.

          We almost  won every game.       --In this sentence, the word almost describes won

                                                           This means that we did not win any games.

          We won almost  every game.      --In this sentence, the word almost describes every

                                                           This means that we won most of our games.


Phrases can also be misplaced.  Compare the following sentences.

         Mikey ran to the gas station         --In this sentence, with untied shoes describes

                   untied shoes.                              gas station.  The phrase is obviously misplaced.

        With untied shoes, Mikey              --In this sentence, untied shoes describes 

                  ran to the gas station.              how Mikey ran.  The phrase is placed correctly.

        Mikey, with untied shoes,              --The phrase here is also placed correctly.

                  ran to the gas station.


A sentence with a dangling modifier does not include the modifier's intended "target".  When writers and speakers begin sentences with present participial phrases and past participial phrases, writers and speakers need to be careful to avoid dangling modifiers.  Compare the following sentences.

       Sprinting to the bus stop, Xavier's   --In this sentence, sprinting to the bus stop modifies  

                   backpack fell.                      nothing.  The phrase is dangling.

       Sprinting to the bus stop, Xavier     --In this sentence, sprinting to the bus stop modifies

                   dropped his backpack.          Xavier.  The sentence is written correctly.

  

       Finished with her homework,          --In this sentence, finished with her homework

                  the game was turned on.       modifies nothing.  The phrase is dangling.


       Finished with her homework,        --In this sentence, finished with her homework

                 Mai turned on the game.       modifies Mai.  The sentence is written correctly.


Dangling modifiers can also be eliminated by turning participial phrases into dependent clauses or independent clauses.    


       Xavier was sprinting to the bus stop, and his backpack fell.

       Xavier was sprinting to the bus stop, and he dropped his backpack.

       While Xavier was sprinting to the bus stop, his backpack fell.

       While Xavier was sprinting to the bus stop, he dropped his back pack.


       Mai finished her homework, so the game was turned on.

       Mai finished her homework, so she turned on the game.

       After Mai finished her homework, the game was turned on.

       After Mai finished her homework, she turned on the game.