Resources for Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers
Writing Lab Slide Presentations
Rules for Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers
1. A dangling modifier is a word or phrase modifying a term that has been omitted or to which it cannot easily be linked. To correct a dangling modifier, reword the sentence by either (1) changing the modifying phrase to a clause with a subject or (2) changing the subject of the sentence to the word that should be modified.
Shortly after leaving home, the accident occurred.
Shortly after we left home, the accident occurred.
To get up on time, a great effort was needed.
To get up on time, I made a great effort.
Being very tired, the alarm failed to disturb Charles's sleep.
Because he was very tired, the alarm failed to disturb Charles's sleep.
2. A modifier is misplaced if it appears to modify the wrong part of the sentence or if we cannot be certain what part of the sentence the writer intended it to modify. To correct a misplaced modifier, move the modifier next to the word it describes.
She served hamburgers to the men on paper plates.
She served hamburgers on paper plates to the men.
Infinitives consist of the marker to plus the plain form of the verb. The two parts of the infinitive are widely regarded as a grammatical unit that should not be split. Splitting an infinitive is placing an adverb between to, the sign of the infinitive, and the verb.
The weather service expected temperatures to not rise.
The weather service expected temperatures not to rise.
Sometimes, a split infinitive may be natural and preferable, though it may still bother some readers.
Several U.S. industries expect to more than triple their use of robots within the next decade.
A squinting modifier is one that may refer to either a preceding or a following word, leaving the reader uncertain about what it is intended to modify. Correct a squinting modifier by moving it next to the one word it is intended to modify.
Snipers who fired on the soldiers often escaped capture.
Snipers who often fired on the soldiers escaped capture.
Snipers who fired on the soldiers escaped capture often.