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Dangling Modifiers Information For Kids

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas”. Isn’t it weird to read that an elephant wore pajamas? Though this statement puts a smile on your face, it reminds us about the important of proper usage of modifiers in a sentence. Improper usage or misplaced modifiers can make your sentence sound senseless and may even bring about unintentional (and sometimes undesired) humor in your writings. In English, these types of misplaced modifiers are known as dangling modifiers. In other words, a modifier becomes a dangling modifier when it is associated with a word other than the one it is intended for or when it is not attached to any particular word at all. It adds a certain silliness to the sentence and which is exactly the problem associated with it. Dangling proverbs drag the attention of the listeners or readers on how you’ve expressed something instead of what you’ve said. It affects the communication and fails to convey your message to others. Want to know more about dangling modifiers? Read on!

Dangling Modifiers

Look at the sentence: “At the age of eight, my family finally bought a dog.” While reading this sentence you may get confused as to whose age is mentioned here, the family’s or their dog’s or the speaker’s? This happens because the modifier in this sentence, “at the age of eight”, is not attached to any particular person or thing. This makes the sentence handicapped and distorts its intended meaning.

Examples Of Dangling Modifiers

  • Reaching the station, the sun came out. (Who reached the station? Obviously, can’t be the sun.)
  • Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on. (Who finished the assignment – The TV?)
  • Having been thrown in the air, the dog caught the stick. (Who is been thrown; stick or dog?)
  • Smashed flat by a passing truck, Big Dog sniffed at what was left of a half-eaten hamburger. (What was smashed? Big dog seems pretty alive)
  • I saw the trailer peeking through the window. (Who peeked through the window?)
  • Being in a dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house very cheap. (Was the house in dilapidated condition or the person?)
  • Roaring down the track at seventy miles an hour, the train smashed the stalled car. (Was the car in high speed or the train?)
  • I was late for the school bus again. Running for the bus, my book fell in the mud. (Was the book running, or the person?)
  • Deciding to join the navy, the recruiter enthusiastically pumped Joe’s hand. (Who decided to join the Navy: Joe or recruiter?)
  • Upon entering the doctor‘s office, a skeleton caught my attention. (Do you mean that the skeleton entered doctor’s office?)
  • Though only sixteen years old, the college accepted Martha’s application. (Do you mean that the College is sixteen years old?)
  • After a quick change into my hospital gown, the nurse told me to relax. (So, did the nurse change into your hospital gown?)
  • Having jumped up into the air too late to catch it, the ball fell to the ground. (Do you mean that the ball jumped into the air to catch something?)

Spotting a Dangling Modifier

It is now obvious that dangling modifiers cause unwanted troubles in our language and such mistakes should be avoided. How to locate a dangling modifier and how to correct it? Go through the tips given below and avoid using dangling modifier further.

  • Read repeatedly and check whether you have used modifying phrases in the sentence.
  • If you have used one, then find out the noun that follows the modifier. This is the one which gets modified.
  • If the noun following the modifier is not the one you intend to talk about then rewrite the sentence in such a way that the noun to be modified follows the modifier.
  • The modifier should be connected to the noun logically or else, you are leaving chances for dangling modifier.

How To Rewrite A Sentence With Dangling Modifier?

  • Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed. Revised sentence: Having arrived late for practice, team needed to submit a written excuse.
  • Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him. Revised sentence: Because Maria did not know his name; it was difficult to introduce him.
  • To improve his results, the experiment was done again. Revised sentence: He improved his results by doing the experiment again.
  • Piled up next to the washer, I began doing the laundry. Revised sentence: I began doing the laundry piled up next to the washer.
  • While talking on the phone, the doorbell rang. Revised sentence: While John was talking on the phone, the doorbell rang.
  • Standing on the balcony, the ocean view was magnificent. Revised sentence: Standing on the balcony, we had a magnificent ocean view.
  • As I was running across the floor, the rug slipped and I lost my balance, Revised sentence: Running across the floor, the rug slipped and I lost my balance.
  • While taking out the trash, the sack broke. Revised sentence: While Jamie was taking out the trash, the sack broke.
  • Returning from church this morning, two horses almost ran into my car. Revised sentence: Returning from the church this morning, I almost crashed into two horses.
  • Thinking over your idea, here’s a proposal. Revised sentence: Thinking over your idea, I came up with a proposal.
  • At the age of four, my grandmother taught me to knit. Revised sentence: When I was 4-year-old, my grandmother taught me to knit.
  • Driving over the road, the ocean came into view. Revised sentence: Driving over the road, I got a view of the ocean.
  • At the age of twelve, my mother entered me in a contest. Revised sentence: When I was at the age of twelve, my mother entered me in a contest.

Hope the aforementioned write-up, with all its explanations and examples, gave you a fair idea of what dangling modifiers are and why is it important to use modifiers appropriately. Considering the examples given above, you can easily make out how these modifiers damage the sentences and the message it conveys. So, from now on, do check that the modifiers you use in sentences are associated with the right noun which you intend to modify.

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