You are on page 1of 26

CC0040

academic English workshops
2009-2010 Session 8– Dangling Modifiers

Wience Lai
ccwience@hkcc-polyu.edu.hk 3746-0170 HHB 1630

Who swing through the trees?

Swinging through the trees, the children watching the monkeys burst into giggles.

What is a Dangling Modifier?
A

modifier that opens a sentence must be followed immediately by the word it is meant to describe; otherwise it is dangling. dangling modifier does not describe what the author intends to describe, thus resulting in an unintended meaning.

A

How to correct dangling modifiers?
1. Add/Place

group .

the subject right after the opening word

Swinging through the trees, the monkeys make the children burst into giggles.

How to correct dangling modifiers?
2. Add/Place

group .

the subject within the opening word

While the monkeys swing through the trees, the children burst into giggles.

Part A: Diagnostic Test
 Identify

and underline the dangling modifiers in the passage.  Revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers in the space between the lines.

Part B: Grammatical principles Review

Varying your Sentences with an Opening Phrase Avoiding Dangling Modifiers

Varying your Sentences with an Opening Phrase
You can make your essay more interesting by varying your sentences.  One method 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.

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.

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.

“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.

Avoiding Dangling Modifiers
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 Opening Opening Opening

sentences sentences sentences sentences

with with with with

-ed words (past participle phrases), -ing words (present participle phrases), prepositional phrases, “to” word groups (infinitives)

word (Past Participle Phrases)
Dangling Modifier: 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.] Revision: As Mike was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award, Mike’s supervisor congratulated him.

ing word (Present Participle Phrases)
Dangling Modifier: 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
Dangling Modifier: 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 Revision reviewed the paragraphs written by each other.

Opening sentences with “to” word group (infinitives)
Dangling Modifier: 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.

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 goodlooking.
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.

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises

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.

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises
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, …

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises
Exercise C3: Identify and underline the dangling modifiers in the passage. Then, revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers in the space between the lines.

References
Langan, J. (2008). English skills for academic studies. New York: McGraw-Hill.

End