3 years ago
greggr
in English · 1,245 Views
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Break this Grammar Rule: No Dangling Modifiers
There is an old rule in the grammar books that tells us that dangling modifiers should be a no-go in all writing. A modifier, for those of us not so up-to-date on our grammar rules, would be something that changes, alters, limits, or adds more info to something else in the sentence. A dangling modifier is considered dangling when the sentence isn't clear about what is being modified, specifically, when the implied subject is not identical to that over of the main clause following the modifier. Do you see a problem with the sentences that follow? "Turning the corner, the view was quite different." "Hoping to garner favor, my parents were sadly unimpressed with the gift." "After reading the great new book, the movie based on it is sure to be exciting." According to an old rule about "dangling modifiers", these sentences are ungrammatical. Most people would fix them by rearranging the sentence, or adding the subject to the modifying clause in order to make it "make sense." For example: "Turning the corner, I saw that the view was quite different." Should these dangling modifiers really be considered grammatical errors? The answer is no: the problem with these clauses is not that they are grammatically incorrect, but that they can create confusion for the reader. For example: "When a small puppy, a ball is of much interest." However, since many participles are now commonly used as prepositions (which do not require a subject for clarity), these clauses have become perfectly acceptable. Sentences with "according," "following," and "granted" at the start of these clauses can be clear without a subject; often, adding one sounds presumptuous and difficult to relate to. To explain more clearly: - when the implied subject is the writer and the reader, a so-called dangling modifier is OK. - deciding whether or not to re-write the sentence depends on whether or not the reader is going to be slowed in confusion because of the clause. If not, you're in the clear! - if you're going to be judged on your writing style by picky readers, you might still want to follow the old, formal rule, just to be safe.
greggr clipped in 1 collections
2 comments
I understand the argument that this grammar rule can be broken, reading sentences with modifiers just seems odd to me. Then again, that may just be force of habit!
3 years ago·Reply
10
Thank you for saying this!! I feel like as long as they don't make the reader totally confused or uncomfortable, they're fine! Unless you're trying to make the reader confused and uncomfortable, then they're always fine....
3 years ago·Reply
10