Dangling Modifier

A dangling modifier is a phrase or clause positioned so that it seems to modify the wrong word. Passive-verb constructions often leave modifiers dangling (see PV).

In the following example, the underlined clause is “dangling” because “omissions” is grammatically – but illogically – the subject of the verb “to study.” The “omissions” are not doing the studying; you are.

DM: When studying Shakespeare’s transformation of source material, omissions are as important as inclusions.

To solve the problem, either specify the real object of the modifier or rewrite the modifying clause:

Corrected: When studying literary Shakespeare’s transformation of source material, one must note omissions as well as inclusions.

Corrected: In Shakespeare’s transformation of source material, his omissions are as significant as his inclusions.

Other examples (modified from students’ actual submissions):

DM: In searching the parish records and Yorkshire records, all the names of the people mentioned in the document can be found.

Corrected: In searching the parish records and Yorkshire records, I found all the names of the people mentioned in the document.

Corrected:  The names of all the people mentioned in the document appear in the parish records or Yorkshire records.