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.

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.