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.”
|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
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