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Dangling Modifiers

What is a Dan­gling Modifier?

Dan­gling mod­i­fier is a word or a phrase that mod­i­fies the clause inap­pro­pri­ately. A writer may intend to mod­ify the sub­ject, but gram­mar rules seem­ingly mod­ify the object instead. Con­fus­ing? Maybe some exam­ples would help you to appre­ci­ate the prob­lem asso­ci­ated with Dan­gling Modifiers.

Hav­ing fin­ished the assign­ment, the TV was turned on.

Here ‘the TV’ is not the sub­ject of main clause (fin­ished the assigned). “Hav­ing fin­ished” is a clause express­ing action but there are no sub­jects claim­ing this action. In this exam­ple, the TV cant doesn’t qual­ify to be sub­ject because TV sets can’t com­plete assignments.

Hav­ing fin­ished the assign­ment, John turned on the TV.

In this case, we could actu­ally work out the cen­tral idea. But the catch is read­ers shouldn’t be work­ing out the mean­ing. They should appre­ci­ate the writ­ing as it is. In short, dan­gling mod­i­fiers lead to dif­fi­culty in under­stand­ing and some unin­ten­tional humour.

Golden Rules

If at any point of time you draw a chuckle, due to how you have said it rather than what you have said, then it has unfavourable out­comes. Few care­ful steps would go a long way in avoid­ing such mishaps.
Step1: Under­line all the mod­i­fiers in your sen­tences.
Step2: Match all the nouns fol­low­ing your dan­gling mod­i­fiers.
Step3: Ensure that your mod­i­fier and noun goes together log­i­cally. If not, you have a dan­gling mod­i­fier! Name an appro­pri­ate doer of the action as the sub­ject of the clause.
Step4: Rewrite the sen­tence.

Remove Dan­gling Modifiers

“Being asleep, the tele­phone star­tled me when it rang.”
Now, we would apply the above rules in this sen­tence and check for dan­gling mod­i­fiers.
Step1: Being asleep, the tele­phone star­tled me when it rang
Step2: Being asleep, the tele­phone star­tled me when it rang
Step3: The tele­phone can’t go to sleep. So we have a dan­gling mod­i­fier here. Here we have to intro­duce the doer of the action. Let us intro­duce the doer as “I”. Now “I” is the sub­ject of the main clause.
Step4: “Being asleep, I was star­tled when the tele­phone rang.”
Some­times, comb­ing the main clause and the dan­gling phrase helps in resolv­ing the con­flict.
The exper­i­ment was a fail­ure, not hav­ing stud­ied the lab man­ual care­fully.
As it is, the sen­tence would mean that the exper­i­ment failed because the exper­i­ment didn’t read the lab man­ual. This is illog­i­cal.
Apply­ing the above rules, we observe that we need to intro­duce a noun.

They failed the exper­i­ment, not hav­ing stud­ied the lab man­ual carefully.

Build and Structure your Assignments and Essays– Part 2

In this post we shall con­tinue with our dis­cus­sion of struc­tur­ing essays. Here we would pri­mar­ily focus on organ­is­ing and draft­ing our ideas.

Organ­is­ing Ideas


• We need to organ­ise the enor­mous data we col­lected in pre­vi­ous step. This not only reduces the redun­dancy of data, but also it helps in set­ting the flow of essay.
Start with the cen­tral idea of your essay. Write down the main idea at the cen­tre of the page. Now sur­round this with the imme­di­ate ideas which would help you reach at the main idea. If the tone of your essay is per­sua­sive, you should come up with con­vinc­ing data. If you are explain­ing a process, you can list out all the steps that need to be fol­lowed. Be care­ful to cat­e­gorise your essay into begin­ning, mid­dle and end.Work out­wards till you exhaust all your col­lected infor­ma­tion. The con­nec­tions between the var­i­ous ideas should link up and result in the main idea. The resul­tant pic­ture is called a mind-map. Now, you should be able to recount all the data you want to be present in your essay only by read­ing the mind-map. If you are miss­ing some­thing, then prob­a­bly you need to re-draw the mind-map.


Now we are ready to write. We will divide our essay in three basic parts-introduction, body and con­clu­sion. They are not just the tags asso­ci­ated to an essay. They form the basic con­cep­tual frame­work of the essay. The intro­duc­tion more or less reflects your under­stand­ing of the prob­lem, which is crit­i­cal from exams per­spec­tive.
An intro­duc­tion is the begin­ning of the jour­ney. It is almost like brief overview of what is going to come in the essay. An intro­duc­tion hence is almost syn­ony­mous to the ques­tions what/why/how. Intro­duc­tion is the place, where you are actu­ally judged for your under­stand­ing of the prob­lem state­ment. Try ask­ing the ques­tions what/why/how. This shall tell you what to include in the intro­duc­tion. Make sure you let the reader know how you are going to take up the prob­lem in sub­se­quent paragraphs.

Main Body

In the main body of the essay you would be con­cen­trat­ing on the cen­tre of the mind-map you have already devel­oped. You look to build what you sug­gested in the intro­duc­tion. Make sure you don’t skip ideas. The ideas should link up smoothly lead­ing to your main idea. Refer to the mind-map you have already cre­ated. The mind-map should help you to start and move towards your goal.


The con­clu­sion should typ­i­cally remind the reader of all the impor­tant points of the essay. You should sum­marise the main points of the argu­ment. It is always advis­able to remind the reader of the meth­ods you employed to reach to the main idea. Do not intro­duce new ideas in the con­clu­sion para­graph. This para­graph is meant to end the argu­ment so do not start with new ques­tions.
In the next part we would look to com­pact our essay.

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