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Empower your writing

Stop using the dangling participle and misplaced modifiers

Both can seriously change the flow and meaning of your writing. It is important to make sure we qualify the intended words and not just any words in the sentence.

A participle is a verb that acts like an adjective and ends in –ing, such as swimming or cooking or diving. You name it! Any verb can be turned into a participle. A participial phrase is a phrase describing an action, “cooking on the stove”, “swimming in the ocean” and it is used to modify a noun in the sentence. A dangling participle modifies the unintended noun. Examples of dangling participles:

Misinterpreted: Cooking on the stove, Alice decided it was time to turn the vegetables.

It sounds as though Alice herself was being cooked on the stove.

Intended: Alice decided it was time to turn the vegetables that were cooking on the stove.

Misinterpreted: Sunburned and dehydrated, Mom decided it was time for the children to go into the house.

It sounds as though the Mom is sunburned and dehydrated.

Intended: Mom decided it was time for the children, who were sunburned and dehydrated, to go into the house.

 

A modifier is a word or a phrase that modifies something else in the sentence. Misplaced modifiers are modifiers that modify something else other than what you intended.

Examples of misplaced modifiers:

“I only walked my dog.” which means you did nothing but walk the dog. You did not feed or wash it, etc.

“I walked only my dog.” which means you did not walk anyone else such as your cat or your child, etc.

“I write mostly for other blogs.” which means that you write for other blogs most of the time but you may write for other sources as well.

“I mostly write for other blogs.” which means that your main activity is to write for other blogs. You may do other things too, such as sleep and eat but most of the time, you are writing for other blogs.

 

This is an excerpt from a book by Farnoosh Brock, available at Amazon.

Photo credit: http://maineschoolwritingcenters.blogspot.com/

 

Wishing you a wonderful Monday,

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About JustEnglish.me

This blog is Zoe's way to spread the joy of finding and learning interesting bits about English. Join her and learn something new every time.

3 responses to “Empower your writing”

  1. on thehomefrontandbeyond says :

    thank you — I am now no longer going to dangle my participles–seriouly, I have a degree in english and this is the best explanation I have ever read and understood

  2. sharechair says :

    great explanation!!!

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