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Friday, October 23, 2009

Dangling Modifiers Please!

Are authors getting better at avoiding dangling modifiers or am I getting desensitized to them?

I wanted to run a few of them on this blog with comments that might make it easier for writers to spot their own. I've been searching for weeks and haven't found any.

Is that a testament to how hard they are to spot or do I need a new pair of glasses? Will you help? Pullll---eeze? Send me your samples with DANGLING MODIFIER in the subject line to Or just add your suggestion as a comment to the post (see that wee little "comment" link below this post? Go on. You can do it. Be sure to give me how or if you'd like to be credited. You all know how I am about marketing, too, huh?

This will be fun (and funny--because dangling modifers often are!). But I need your help.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.


June Casagrande said...

I always have a hard time finding real-world examples of grammar errors when I need them. That's why I try to stockpile any I find.

Here's a badly placed modifier I use in my upcoming book: "Joe took a three-month haitus in March."

Funnier ones are out there, too. My favorite is a supposedly real one from a supposedly real onetime classified ad: "Mixing bowl set designed to please cook with round bottom for efficient beating."

Aaah, language!

MPL Creative Resources said...

These are sentences containing dangling modifiers.

1 -- While driving down the road, a tree hit his car.
2 -- Having been thrown in the air, the dog caught the stick.
3 -- Walking down the street, the trees were beautiful.
4 -- Running for the bus, my book fell in the mud.
5 -- Upon entering the doctor's office, a skeleton caught my attention.

Below are samples of misplaced modifiers:

1 -- Covered in wildflowers, Aardvark pondered the hillside's beauty. (The hillside should be covered with flowers, not the aardvark).
2 -- I had to take down the shutters painting the house yesterday. (The shutters are painting the house?)
3 -- A book sat on the table which he had read. (He read the table?)
4 -- Fred handed his paper to his teacher that was late.(Was the teacher late or the paper?)
5 -- The professor posted the notes for the students covered in class. (Were the students covered in class of the notes?)

Both can be hilarious and embarrassing. They hide from sight until it's too late, then...GOTCHA!

~ Mindy

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