Dangling Participles

Dangling Participles

Dangling Participles

Learning Objectives

In this workshop, you will focus on the following objective: 
  • Understanding how to avoid dangling participles.
Participial Phrases

A participial phrase is a phrase that contains a verb participle. It is usually used to modify a word or a phrase in a sentence. A phrase that has no referent, the word to which the phrase refers, is called a dangling participle.

Literature Connection 

In the quotation below, Stephen Vincent Benét uses a participial phrase, a phrase that contains a participle, to add a descriptive detail. The detail helps readers visualize the scene. 

“He looked at me for a long time, stroking his beard. . . . 

—Stephen Vincent Bené t, from “By the Waters of Babylon”

The phrase stroking his beard modifies the subject he in this sentence.

A participial phrase that has no referent—that modifies nothing—is a dangling participle. If a participial phrase is misplaced or dangling, it can create confusion and misunderstanding. For clear writing, you want to avoid these errors. Below are some solutions to correcting dangling participles. Often you have to add other words to complete the meaning of the sentence.

Dangling participle 

Stooping down, the piece of metal was picked up. 

Solution A 
Position the modifier next to a referent. 
Stooping down, the boy picked up the piece of metal. 

Solution B 
Change the dangling participle to a main or subordinate clause. 
As he stooped down, the boy picked up the piece of metal. 
The boy stooped down to pick up the piece of metal.

Dangling Participles Quiz

Directions: Indicate whether the sentence is correct as written or if it has a dangling participle.

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