Dangling Participles

First of all, what’s a participle?

Simple. It’s a verb ending in -ing or -ed that functions as an adjective. Remember that the past participle is NOT ALWAYS formed with -ed, as in grown, caught, built, sold, found, forgotten, and so on.

Noun with a plain old adjective Noun modified by a participle
The red sunset The colored sunset
The happy couple The excited couple
A peaceful moment A relaxing moment
An old story A forgotten story
A mature woman A grown woman

Now, what’s a dangling participle?

It’s a participle or participial phrase that doesn’t have the correct noun to modify. It is left “dangling.”

A participial phrase should modify the subject of the clause it is attached to, like this:

Trying to vomit, I felt the toilet lid land on my head.

The participle trying modifies the subject I.

Too often, we leave the participle dangling:

Trying to vomit, the toilet lid fell on my head.

The toilet lid cannot vomit, so the participial phrase trying to vomit is left “dangling.”

Dangling Participle Corrected
Barking like crazy, my dad chased our stupid dog. Barking like crazy, our stupid dog ran down the street with my dad in hot pursuit.
Standing in line at Subway, a cockroach crawled across the lettuce. Standing in line at Subway, I saw a cockroach crawl across the lettuce.
Driving down the highway in Florida, the alligator scared me swimming in the ditch. Driving down the highway in Florida, I was scared by the alligator swimming in the ditch.
Freshly castrated, my dad drove our dog home, sleeping all the way. Freshly castrated, our dog slept all the way home.

Dangling Participles Quiz

In each group of sentences, only one does NOT have a dangling participle.
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