What is a dangling participle?

From LitWiki

A dangling participle or misplaced modifier, is intended to be used to modify a noun in a sentence; however this grammar modifier[1] can completely change the meaning of the sentence making the reader to misinterpret it.

What is a participle?

In grammar[2],according to the Prentice-Hall Handbook for Writers, participle is a verbal used as an adjective[3]. Though a participle cannot make an assertion,it is derived from a verb and cam take an object and be modified by an adverb. As an adjective, a participle can modify a noun or pronoun[4].

The present particles ends in -ing: singing, dressing,trying. The past particles ends in -d, -ed, -t, -n, -en, or changes the vowel: walked, lost, seen, rung.

What is a dangling construction?

According to Prentice-Hall Handbook for Writers,dangling construction is a clause or phrase that can either modify nothing in a sentence or seems to modify a word that is not logically related. A dangling construction it is often the result of carelessness in writing and thinking.

It is important to avoid dangling participles. Even though, a participle does not make an assertion, nonetheless does imply an actor. Failing while trying to identify this actor creates misleading; and in some cases humorous-effects.


Example #1


Driving through the mountains, several bears were seen.

(The participle driving modifies nothing; it seems to modifies bears which is not logically related.)


Driving through the mountains, we saw several bears.

(Here, driving modifies we, which is the subject of the independent clause[5].)

Example #2


Riding a bicycle, a dog chased me.

(Riding modifies nothing; it cannot logically modify dog.)


Riding my bicycle, I was chased by a dog.

(Riding clearly modifies I, the subject of the main clause.)

Types of dangling constructions

-Dangling Particle

-Dangling Gerunds[6]

-Dangling Infinitives[7]

-Dangling Elliptical Clauses

See also

Dangling Modifier[8]


Leggett, Glenn, C. David Mead and William Charvat. Prentice-Hall Handbook for Writers. Fourth Edition. Prentice-Hall Inc. 1965. pp.95, 96 & 467.