Friday, April 8, 2011

Dangling modifiers please!

I'm collecting dangling modifiers again!  The more fun the better.  Can you all contribute examples you find (suitably disguised if you want)?

Here's one I just saw!

John gave her a furious look as she strode forward, eyes raking her face and back.

Dangling modifier, check!
Violent body parts, check!
Impossible physical positioning, check!

Many elements (like "as she strode forward") are portable. We can put that "As" clause at the start of the sentence and get rid of the dangler at least (because then at least it's clearer that it's his eyes doing the raking).

That of course won't fix the murderous body parts, and the fact that her face and back are apparently on the same side of her body. But I'm not a miracle-worker here, people!

Dangling examples, please!



Kate Higgins said...

I heard these within minutes of each other;

Advice list on staying healthy: "Don't smoke and exercise regularly."

On the nightly news: "The police officer stopped man with a sword". Do they issue swords to officers of the law in Seattle now????

Edittorrent said...

Kate, those "don't/do" sentences always baffle me. I hadn't thought about collecting them too, but you're right! That is a real meaning error.


Miles said...

Presumably, she is striding forward, and strides on past, which is how John is able to rake both sides of her with his eyes.

So maybe using "past" instead of "forward" for the stride would make that more clear.

Anonymous said...

A little late, but I just heard this on Car Talk this weekend. Not sure it's a dangling anything, but it's in the same general category (at least some form of ambiguity):

When making cookies, be sure to include your kids.

Gail Dayton said...

One of my favorites comes from my days in a prosecutor's office. The "offense sheet" from the Sheriff's Office came in saying: "The subject gave a false name and dob to Deputy "Van" who was lawfully detained."

I get so many now, (at the newspaper dayjob) I can't remember them... We need a place to collect them. :)