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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers (KEY) Part A: Diagnostic Test Identify and underline the dangling modifiers in the following passage. the lines. Home Alone Every day, thousands of children in Hong Kong come home after school to an empty apartment. Thinking that it is safe to leave children at home alone, many children are left at home alone while their parents go to work. (Revision: Thinking that it is safe to leave children at home alone, many parents leave the children at home alone while they go to work.) In fact, if left on their own, children can get hurt easily. Children are always full of energy. If left unsupervised, their boredom may make them try every means to have fun. (Revision: If children are left unsupervised, their boredom may make them try every means to have fun.) Curious about everything, they may play with hot objects and burn themselves accidentally. Missing their parents, the children may climb to the window to find out whether their parents are coming home or not. If forgotten to close the windows, the children may fall out and lose their life. (Revision: If the parents forget to close the windows, the children may fall out and lose their life.) In addition, children are too young to distinguish certain things such as alcohol and water. If not put in a proper place, children may drink alcohol by mistake. (Revision: If alcohol is not put in a proper place, children may drink it by mistake.) Part B: Grammatical Sentences – Review Combining Sentences for Sentence Variety: Beginning with an Opening Phrase Varying the kinds of sentences you write can make your essay more interesting and effective. One method you may use to improve sentence variety is to open your sentences with introductory phrases, e.g. -ed words (past participle phrases), -ing words (present participle phrases), prepositional phrases, “to” word groups (infinitives), etc. Then,

revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers in the space between

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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Opening sentences with –ed words (Past Participle Phrases)

Example: Sentence 1: Mike was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award. Sentence 2: He thanked his supervisor for his continuous support. Awarded the Outstanding Research Student Award, Mike thanked his supervisor for his continuous support.
Opening sentences with –ing words (Present Participle Phrases)

Example: Sentence 1: Katie had put extra efforts and time in her study this semester. Sentence 2: She received straight A’s in all subjects. Having put extra efforts and time in her study this semester, Katie received straight A’s in all subjects.
Opening sentences with prepositional phrases

Example: Sentence 1: We were in the discussion room. Sentence 2: We reviewed the paragraphs written by our team members. In the discussion room, we reviewed the paragraphs written by our team members.
Opening sentences with “to” word groups (infinitives)

Example: Sentence 1: The students want to get five bonus marks for the research essay. Sentence 2: They will complete all project preparation steps before the deadlines. To get five bonus marks for the research essay, the students will complete all project preparation steps before the deadlines. Dangling Modifiers - A modifier that describes or identifies another word or group of words which is NOT STATED in the same sentence. The writer’s intended meaning is distorted as the reader attaches the modifier to another word or group of words which appears in the sentence. Dangling modifiers take several forms:
Opening sentences with –ed word (Past Participle Phrases)

Awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award, Mike’s supervisor congratulated him. [It was Mike but not his supervisor who was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award.]
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Revision: As Mike was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award, Mike’s supervisor congratulated him.
Opening sentences with –ing word (Present Participle Phrases)

Having obtained straight A’s in all subjects, a $10,000 scholarship was received. [It was not a $10,000 scholarship but Katie who has obtained straight A’s in all subjects.] Revision: Having obtained straight A’s in all subjects, Katie received a $10,000 scholarship.
Opening sentences with prepositional phrases

In the discussion room, the paragraphs written by our group members were reviewed. [It was not the paragraphs but we who were in the discussion room reviewing the paragraphs.] Revision: In the discussion room, we reviewed the paragraphs written by each other.
Opening sentences with “to” word group (infinitives)

To get five bonus marks for the research essay, all project preparation steps should be completed before the deadlines. [It was not the project preparation steps but the students who want to get five bonus marks.] Revision: To get five bonus marks for the research essay, we need to complete all project preparation steps before the deadlines. Note: To correct errors of dangling modifiers, you may change the dangling modifier to a subordinate clause or change the subject of the main clause to the one that the modifier can appropriately attach to. There is no single exact way to revise each sentence. The above revisions are only suggestions. Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises Exercise C1: Combine the following pairs of sentences by using the opener shown in the bracket. 1. (Opening with an –ed word) (a) Most of the music recording companies in Hong Kong are concerned about the appearance rather than the voice of a potential singer. (b) They give preference to candidates who are good-looking.
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Suggested answer: Concerned about the appearance rather than the voice of a potential singer, most of the music recording companies in Hong Kong give preference to candidates who are good-looking. 2. (Opening with an –ing word) (a) Many Hong Kong people know that having babies incurs a large sum of expenses. (b) Many married couples do not plan to have babies. Suggested answer: Knowing that having babies incurs a large sum of expenses, many married couples do not plan to have babies. 3. (Opening with a “to” word group) (a) Our group wants to finish the project on time. (b) Regular meetings have been scheduled every week. Suggested answer: To finish the project on time, our group has scheduled regular meetings every week. Note: Answers may vary. The above answers are only suggestions.

Exercise C2: Make sentences using the modifiers given to you. Then, circle the word(s) being modified.

1. Having grown up in the 21st century, _____________________________________ 2. To receive an outstanding result in this academic English course, _____________

3. Upon graduating from the associate degree programme, ____________________ 4. Tired and exhausted, __________________________________________________ Answers may vary.

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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Exercise C3: Identify and underline the dangling modifiers in the following passage. Then, revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers in the space between the lines. School Violence Have you ever tried to bully your classmates or been bullied by others? Last year, a video on some teenagers beating their classmates in a school was put on the Internet. Having watched this video, school violence became a hot topic in the local community. (Revision: After many Hong Kong people have watched this video, school violence became a hot topic in the local community.) After that, many other cases were revealed. Having learnt about the seriousness of this problem, many people in Hong Kong called for immediate actions of the government, schools, and parents. First, the government should put more resources on moral education. By highlighting school violence is a criminal act, teenagers’ awareness on the consequences of their mischievous behaviour can be aroused. (Revision: By highlighting school violence is a criminal act, the government can arouse teenagers` awareness on the consequences of their mischievous behaviour.) In addition, schools can organise some talks and exhibitions to promote students’ moral standard. By imposing stricter school regulations and punishment, students may stop using violence at school. (Revision: If the schools impose stricter school regulations and punishment, students may stop using violence at school.) Lastly, parents should also devote more time to talk to the teenagers. By discussing the problems with the teenagers, teenagers’ emotion can be channelled properly. (Revision: By discussing the problems with the teenagers, parents can help teenagers channel their emotion properly.) Through the close collaboration of these parties, teenagers will eventually learn how to deal with problems by using more appropriate solutions rather than violence. Note: There is no single “right way” to correct each sentence. The above answers are only suggestions.

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