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.
Key Concepts: Clarity
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 modifiers are separated from the words, phrase, vagueness creeps into the prose, and that can create confusion and misunderstandings.
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.