A modifier is a word or phrase that describes or specifies another term. When we say a modifier is dangling, the modifier implicitly modifies one thing but technically (syntactically) modifies something else, potentially generating confusion (or humor):
Having finished my dinner, the waiter offered to bring dessert.
This statement would be correct only correct if the waiter came and ate your last few bites! That opening phrase is clearly meant to modify "I" (the person referred to by "my"), but the way the sentence is written makes it apply to "the waiter," who will probably not be getting a very good tip.
To untangle this mismatch, either make sure the introductory phrase contains an action actually performed by the main subject or add the correct subject to the intro phrase:
- Having seen that I had finished my dinner, the waiter offered to bring dessert.
- After I finished my dinner, the waiter offered to bring dessert.
Here's another example, this time with the dangling modifier at the end:
The park ranger spotted a bear peering through his binoculars. (Smart bear!)
This sentence can be rearranged to place the modifier next to the entity it describes:
Peering through his binoculars, the park ranger spotted a bear.
Learn more about modifiers and how not to let them dangle with the following links.
Dangling Modifiers Links
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