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Dangling Modifier

Updated on February 13, 2011

Dangling Modifiers

The modify means to describe or change, so a modifier describes or changes the subject to which it refers. While a modifier may be a single word, such as an adverb or an adjective, a phrase may also be a modifier.

When a modifier is placed so that it appears to modify the wrong word, it is called a misplaced or dangling modifier. The most common type of mistake is a verbal phrase at the beginning of a sentence that seems to modify the wrong subject. This mistake is often confusing, and sometimes even humorous.

Example of a dangling modifier:
   Unclear statement:

While running across the yard, the leaves got stuck between my toes.

In the above sentence, the action phrase "running across the yard" unintentionally suggests that the leaves are running. Clearer versions of the sentence would be:

Clear Statement:

While I was running across the yard, the leaves got stuck between my toes.

-OR-

While running across the yard, I got leaves stuck between my toes.

Unclear Statement:

Swinging wildly through the trees, the children were delighted by the monkeys.

Clear Statement:

            The children were delighted by the monkeys swinging wildly through the trees.

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      usman0786 6 years ago

      Welcome mecheshier, thanks for your comment

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 6 years ago

      Yes, a great reminder that we all forget from time to time. Thank you for the Hub!

      :-) For some odd reason, I love the word modifier.