You ever read sentences and stop? You go back and read them again and again. Sometimes you probably laugh out loud, because they’re funny and definitely not what the author had in mind.
You want see them that often in published work. By the time your manuscript hits the publishers desk, sentences like these have been cleaned up. At least they had better be if you want your work taken seriously. Watch out for those dangling modifiers and badly placed words.
A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept.
A dangling modifier is misplaced because it doesn’t have anything to modify. The word or words a dangling modifier should modify have been omitted from the sentence. I know you hear professionals say cut, cut, cut, but some words should not be cut.
“Always suspect an -ing word of dangling if it’s near the front of a sentence; consider it guilty until proven innocent.” –Patricia O’Connor.
Incorrect: Reading the regulations, the dog did not enter the park.
- “Reading the regulations” is a dangling modifier.
- The dog cannot read the regulations; the word(s) that “reading the regulations” modifies have been omitted.
- Correct: After reading the regulations, I did not enter the park with my dog.
And then there’s…
The kind mother, handed out bologna sandwiches to all the children in Ziploc bags. (What were they doing in Ziploc bags?)
The robber was in his late thirties and about 6’2″, with long curly hair weighing about 160 lbs. (I think I would cut a little bit of that hair.)
The homeowner chased the intruder wearing nothing but his underwear. (Who was wearing nothing but underwear?)
Just for laughs…..
- Coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement.
- With his tail held high, my father led his prize poodle around the arena.
- I saw an accident walking down the street.
- Freshly painted, Jim left the room to dry.
- He held the umbrella over Janet’s head that he got from Delta Airlines.
- Lost: Antique walking stick by an old man with a carved ivory head.
- The company’s refrigerator held microwavable lunches for 18 employees frozen in the top compartment.
I know most of you have dangling modifiers down, but they are so much fun.