Last updated 5/31/2016
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Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. Background changes to a keyboard on a table and the title “Structuring Sentences: Dangling Modifiers.” Slide changes to a slide with the header “ Dangling Modifier.” Below is the following text:
When you begin a sentence with a description of an action, the very next word must be the head.
Dangling: Racing across the finish line, her shoe fell off.
Revision: Racing across the finish line, she lost her shoe.
Audio: Dangling modifiers are where the main part of a description is disconnected from the description because the description is actually at the very beginning of the sentence. So, you may have a descriptive clause or phrase usually as an introduction and it's set off by a comma, but then the very next word should be the main part of the description that is attached to it.
So, an example of a dangling modifier, where it's not done correctly, is the following: "Racing across the finish line, her shoe fell off." Well, who or what is racing across the finish line? Whoever that is, the very next word after that comma, after that phrase "Racing across the finish line," should be the main part of that description. So, is her shoe racing across the finish line? It sounds like her shoes are just racing by themselves. That's not quite what we want to communicate. The revision would be "Racing across the finish line, she lost her shoe" because "she" is the one that is racing across the finish line.
Dangling modifiers can be really entertaining if they're done wrong, but they can be very misleading as far as communicating your ideas to your reader. So you want to be careful when you're using descriptions that the main idea is always attached, even if it comes after the description, it needs to be right next to that descriptive phrase or clause.
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