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Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers occur when the subject in the introductory phrase is not stated.

Incorrect:
By providing students the opportunity to interact with each other, they become more interested and motivated.

As we can see in the above sentence, the writer knows what he or she means, and the reader can figure out what is meant, but the sentence is clumsy.

Rule to Remember

Correct a dangling modifier by introducing a subject, a participial phrase or converting the sentence to passive voice.

Correcting Dangling Modifiers

To correct the sentence, we can either introduce a subject or convert the sentence to the passive voice:

Correct:
When the teacher provides students with an opportunity to interact with each other, they become more interested and motivated.
Correct:
When students are provided with an opportunity to interact with each other, they become more interested and motivated.

Additionally, we can correct the sentence using a participial phrase:

Correct:
By providing students the opportunity to interact with each other, teachers help them to be more interested and motivated.

Dangling modifiers often appear at the beginning of the sentence:

Incorrect:
While reading The Grapes of Wrath, the characters evoke pity.
Correct:
While I was reading The Grapes of Wrath, I felt pity for the characters.

Incorrect:
Before finishing breakfast, the oatmeal grew cold.
Correct:
Before my son finished breakfast, his oatmeal grew cold.

In general, dangling modifiers are corrected by introducing the subject right after the modifier or including it in the modifying phrase.

Incorrect:
At five years old, my parents decided to move to a different town.
Correct:
When I was five years old, my parents decided to move to a different town.

Incorrect:
To see well, the lights in this room need to be adjusted.
Correct:
To see well, you must adjust the lights in this room.

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