Grammar Lesson Monday: Dangling Participles

Welcome to Grammar Lesson Monday!
This continuous series will address many common grammar mistakes made in the media and that I've seen more than once.  I strive to make the world a better place with good grammar.

Today, we will learn about dangling participles.
This is more of a writer's common error than someone who is speaking normally.

I'm going to use a lot of technical grammar jargon first...
Dangling participles are phrases that are used to preface a sentence but modify the wrong noun/pronoun.

In other words...
The phrase that is tagged onto the beginning of a sentence sounds okay initially, but when you look at it closer, it doesn't sound right because it is describing the wrong subject.

Example of dangling participles:
Painting the last brushstroke, my masterpiece was complete.
>> Sounds good, right?  But if you rearrange it, it's saying that "my masterpiece" "paint[ed] the last brushstroke."  Doesn't make sense.  It's because it's implying that the masterpiece can use brushstrokes, which is impossible.

Another example:
After rotting in the fridge, Andrew threw away the bananas.
>> Can you find what's wrong?  "rotting in the fridge" is describing Andrew and not the bananas.  So, it's really saying that Andrew rotted in the fridge.

When readers read, they expect participial phrases to describe what immediately follows next in the sentence.  If the participial phrase doesn’t do that, you’ve left the participle dangling.

That's it for today.  Celebrate good grammar!

No comments:

Post a Comment