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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 8: Dangling Modifiers

Semester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC

Session 8: Dangling Modifiers

Part A: Diagnostic Test

Identify and underline the dangling modifiers in the following passage. Then,
revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers in the space
between the lines.

Home Alone

Every day, thousands of children in Hong Kong come home after school to an

empty apartment. Thinking that it is safe to leave children at home alone, many

children are left at home alone while their parents go to work. In fact, if left on their

own, children can get hurt easily. Children are always full of energy. If left

unsupervised, their boredom may make them try every means to have fun. Curious

about everything, they may play with hot objects and burn themselves accidentally.

Missing their parents, the children may climb to the window to find out whether their

parents are coming home or not. If forgotten to close the windows, the children may

fall out and lose their life. In addition, children are too young to distinguish certain

things such as alcohol and water. If not put in a proper place, children may drink

alcohol by mistake.

Part B: Grammatical Sentences - Review

Combining Sentences for Sentence Variety: Beginning with an


Opening Phrase
Varying the kinds of sentences you write can make your essay more interesting and
effective. One method you may use to improve sentence variety is to open your
sentences with introductory phrases, e.g. -ed words (past participle phrases), -ing
words (present participle phrases), prepositional phrases, “to” word groups
(infinitives), etc.
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 8: Dangling Modifiers
Semester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC

 Opening sentences with –ed words (Past Participle Phrases)


Example:
Sentence 1: Mike was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award.
Sentence 2: He thanked his supervisor for his continuous support.
 Awarded the Outstanding Research Student Award, Mike thanked his supervisor
for his continuous support. 

 Opening sentences with –ing words (Present Participle Phrases)


Example:
Sentence 1: Katie had put extra efforts and time in her study this semester.
Sentence 2: She received straight A’s in all subjects.
 Having put extra efforts and time in her study this semester, Katie received
straight A’s in all subjects. 

 Opening sentences with prepositional phrases


Example:
Sentence 1: We were in the discussion room.
Sentence 2: We reviewed the paragraphs written by our team members.
 In the discussion room, we reviewed the paragraphs written by our team members.


 Opening sentences with “to” word groups (infinitives)


Example:
Sentence 1: The students want to get five bonus marks for the research essay.
Sentence 2: They will complete all project preparation steps before the deadlines.
 To get five bonus marks for the research essay, the students will complete all
project preparation steps before the deadlines. 

Dangling Modifiers - A modifier that describes or identifies another word or


group of words which is NOT STATED in the same sentence. The writer’s intended
meaning is distorted as the reader attaches the modifier to another word or group of
words which appears in the sentence. Dangling modifiers take several forms:

 Opening sentences with –ed word (Past Participle Phrases)


Awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award, Mike’s supervisor
congratulated him.  [It was Mike but not his supervisor who was awarded the
Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award.]
Revision: As Mike was awarded the Outstanding Postgraduate Student Award, Mike’s
supervisor congratulated him.
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 8: Dangling Modifiers
Semester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC

 Opening sentences with –ing word (Present Participle Phrases)


 Having obtained straight A’s in all subjects, a $10,000 scholarship was received.
 [It was not a $10,000 scholarship but Katie who has obtained straight A’s in all
subjects.]
Revision: Having obtained straight A’s in all subjects, Katie received a $10,000
scholarship.

 Opening sentences with prepositional phrases


 In the discussion room, the paragraphs written by our group members were
reviewed.  [It was not the paragraphs but we who were in the discussion room
reviewing the paragraphs.]
Revision: In the discussion room, we reviewed the paragraphs written by each other.

 Opening sentences with “to” word group (infinitives)


 To get five bonus marks for the research essay, all project preparation steps should
be completed before the deadlines.  [It was not the project preparation steps but the
students who want to get five bonus marks.]
Revision: To get five bonus marks for the research essay, we need to complete all
project preparation steps before the deadlines.

Note: To correct errors of dangling modifiers, you may change the dangling modifier
to a subordinate clause or change the subject of the main clause to the one that the
modifier can appropriately attach to. There is no single exact way to revise each
sentence. The above revisions are only suggestions.

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises

Exercise C1: Combine the following pairs of sentences by using the opener shown
in the bracket.

1. (Opening with an –ed word)


(a) Most of the music recording companies in Hong Kong are concerned about the
appearance rather than the voice of a potential singer.
(b) They give preference to candidates who are good-looking.

2. (Opening with an –ing word)


(a) Many Hong Kong people know that having babies incurs a large sum of expenses.
(b) Many married couples do not plan to have babies.

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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 8: Dangling Modifiers
Semester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC

3. (Opening with a to word group)


(a) Our group wants to finish the project on time.
(b) Regular meetings have been scheduled every week.

Exercise C2: Make sentences using the modifiers given to you. Then, circle the
word(s) being modified.
1. Having grown up in the 21st century, _____________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

2. To receive an outstanding result in this academic English course, _____________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

3. Upon graduating from the associate degree programme, ____________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

4. Tired and exhausted, __________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Exercise C3: Identify and underline the dangling modifiers in the following
passage. Then, revise these sentences to eliminate errors of dangling modifiers
in the space between the lines.

School Violence

Have you ever tried to bully your classmates or been bullied by others? Last

year, a video on some teenagers beating their classmates in a school was put on the

Internet. Having watched this video, school violence became a hot topic in the local

community. After that, many other cases were revealed. Having learnt about the

seriousness of this problem, many people in Hong Kong called for immediate actions

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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 8: Dangling Modifiers
Semester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC

of the government, schools, and parents. First, the government should put more

resources on moral education. By highlighting school violence is a criminal act,

teenagers’ awareness on the consequences of their mischievous behaviour can be

aroused. In addition, schools can organise some talks and exhibitions to promote

students’ moral standard. By imposing stricter school regulations and punishment,

students may stop using violence at school. Lastly, parents should also devote more

time to talk to the teenagers. By discussing the problems with the teenagers,

teenagers’ emotion can be channelled properly. Through the close collaboration of

these parties, teenagers will eventually learn how to deal with problems by using more

appropriate solutions rather than violence.