Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

What are they, Annie? My English teacher started to tell about them at school, but she said they could be confusing, so I quit listening. Now they're going to be on a test, so I guess I'd better learn them. What's a modifier anyway? That's easy, Jay. A modifier adds to something... like these dress-up clothes add to, or modify, my appearance. Yeah, but what are the "grammar" kinds of modifiers that can get "dangling" or "misplaced"? Dougie, do you know? Yeah, Jay; by modifiers they mean all those phrases you learn. You have to write them real close to the word they describe, or talk about. That's all!

Definitions: Modifiers: Participial Phrases and Prepositional Phrases Example: Participial phrases start with a word ending in -ing or -ed. (Putting on her beads, the little girl got dressed.) (Dressed in her mother's clothes, Annie walked the runway.) Prepositional phrases start with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. (With her pretty necklace, Annie looked charming.) Modifies: Describes, adds to the meaning of, tells about Example: Walking in her mother's shoes, Annie modeled her dress-up outfit. (The participial phrase describes Annie.) Misplaced: When a modifier (phrase) is too far away from the word it modifies Example: (Walking unsteadily in high heels, the dog was scared of Annie.) (The noun Annie is too far away from the participial phrase. It looks as if the dog is the one "walking unsteadily in high heels.") Dangling: When a modifier (phrase) doesn't have an appropriate word to modify Example: (Adjusting her mother's hat on her head, it was an adorable picture.) (This doesn't have any noun at all that the participial phrase can modify. Who is "adjusting her mother's hat on her head"? We need the noun Annie in this sentence, but it has been left out. This is a "dangling" modifier. The sentence should have been written, "Adjusting her mother's hat on her head, Annie looked adorable.")
Wow. So it is just a couple of phrases: prepositional and participial. OK. And they just have to be in the right place, near what they modify. Right? Oh... and they need to have something in there to modify! What if I wrote this: Windsurfing on a lake in Arizona, I saw a beautiful green iguana. Yeah, that's great! Just don't write one like this: I saw a beautiful green iguana, windsurfing on a lake in Arizona. Oh, do you recycle? You should, you know....


Let's try to answer questions that test our knowledge of misplaced and dangling modifiers. Pulling out his loose tooth. ______________________________________________________________________ 5. rewrite it on the line provided. that looks like fun. but Jason. At the mall instead of at school. ______________________________________________________________________ 2 . I know -. kayaking through the whitewater rapids in my red kayak and yellow helmet. it was hard to stay focused. Man.let's play Quiz Bowl. I saw my neighbor mowing the grass at 10:00 at night.Hey. 1. Examples: Running from the swarm of bees. I heard you went kayaking yesterday. Yes. Isaac showed it to the class. Patti jumped in the water. the academic team walked to the stage. the garbage can is a bad choice of play areas. Excited about the vacation to Mexico. but I love Quiz Bowl even more! Quiz Bowl Directions: In the sentences below. • If the sentence has a misplaced or dangling modifier. Excited about the vacation to Mexico. • find and circle the word you think the underlined modifier should modify. you should not play in a garbage can. Kyle. ______________________________________________________________________ 3. my mother saw Crystal hanging out. ______________________________________________________________________ 2. ______________________________________________________________________ 4. Kyle has got some bad misplaced modifier problems! How about me? Is this a good one? On the inside of the garbage can. Notified by the award committee. I read about the 90-year-old lady who ran a marathon in my newspaper. Did you see any wildlife on the riverbank? I saw a squirrel. I love pizza. Allie found it hard to stay focused. Jason hid from Tracy. Filled with germs.

to revise the above sentence? A Stranded at the bus stop. ______________________________________________________________________ Here is another way to test your ability to use modifiers correctly: 11. What is the best way. Reading the chapter for the second time. the waiters served the magnificent sixlayer wedding cake. Now. ______________________________________________________________________ 8. smiling with appreciation. hours passed before Arlo's cousin picked him up. Alicia. Misty took a picture of the clever squirrel. if any. What is the best way. you rewrite this one: 13. D No change. Turning the corner. accepted the valentine candy from James. Arlo's cousin picked Arlo up after several hours. Joshua carefully placed his sleeping bag in the middle of the tent. the view was quite different to Ramona. ______________________________________________________________________ 7. Stranded at the bus stop. to revise the above sentence? A Turning the corner. the plot finally became clear. turning the corner. if any. B Stranded at the bus stop. ______________________________________________________________________ 10. B Turning the corner. to revise the above sentence? ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3 . D No change. 12. a quite different view was seen by Ramona. C Stranded at the bus stop. What is the best way.6. Grandpa enjoyed watching Pauly fishing through his kitchen window. it was several hours before Arlo's cousin could pick him up. if any. ______________________________________________________________________ 9. Stealing the sunflower seeds from the birdfeeder. Frosted with creamy white chocolate icing. Arlo waited hours for his cousin to pick him up. Ramona saw a view that was quite different. C Ramona saw quite a different view.