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Is your participle dangling?

March 21st, 2017 by Bob Bly

While channel surfing, I came across a horror movie, and the
description at the bottom of the screen read:

“Stranded in the countryside, a monstrous scarecrow terrorizes a
group of teens.”

This is one of the most common grammar mistakes, and it is called
a dangling participle or dangling modifier.

The first part of the sentence — “stranded in the countryside” —
modifies or describes a noun in the second part of the sentence.

In this example, it is obviously the teens who are stranded and
being terrorized by the scarecrow.

We know this because if the teens were not stranded, they could
just leave and avoid the monster.

The sentence should read: “Stranded in the countryside, a group
of teens is terrorized by a monstrous scarecrow.”

The dangling modifier is a common mistake in the lead paragraph
of business letters.

For instance, here is the opening of a letter written by a sales
rep to warehouse managers, selling an inventory control software
system.

It begins, “As a warehouse manager, I know inventory control is
critical to your success.”

This is wrong because it says the letter writer — “I” — is a
warehouse manager, which he is not.

The correct grammar would be: “As a warehouse manager, you know
that inventory control is critical to your success.”

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 9:25 am and is filed under Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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