Dangling Modifiers

A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that describes, strengthens, or clarifies another word (or group of words) in a sentence. 

A modifier may be considered dangling when the word that is meant to be modified is missing from the sentence. A dangling modifier can weaken or twist the intended meaning of the sentence, thus creating a sense of ambiguity or absurdity.


A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that describes, strengthens, or clarifies another word (or group of words) in a sentence. When a modifier is placed in its proper position in a sentence, a sense of clarity is established for the reader. When modfiers are separated from the words, phrase, 

How can a dangling modifier be corrected?

  • Identify the modifier by circling it.
  • Determine who is doing the action in the sentence.
  • Rewrite the sentence to include both the doer and the modifier.
  • Read the sentence aloud to check word flow and clarity of meaning.

Let’s look at an example:

Running to class, my cell phone began to vibrate.

  • Since you do not want to imply that your cell phone is running to class, the one who is running must be identified.
    • Correction A: As I was running to class, my cell phone began to vibrate.
    • Correction B: My cell phone began to vibrate as I was running to class.
  • The subject, I, has been identified as the one who is doing the running in both of these revised sentences.

Related Concepts

Modifiers

Edit for Unclear Modifiers

Use these strategies to identify and eliminate unclear modifiers–i.e., dangling modifiers and misplaced modifiers.

Misplaced Modifiers

When the modifier is placed in a sentence too far from the word is modifies, it’s called a misplaced modifier.