Fixing Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Dangling and misplaced modifiers can be amusing. But a misleading sentence such as A wart appeared on my left hand that I want removedcan also create awkward prose. The following exercise with answer key will help you understand and learn to fix this common writing error.

A dangling modifier describes or limits a word or words that are missing from the sentence. A misplaced modifier occurs when the word or phrase it describes is not close enough to be clear. In both instances, the solution is to move the modifier closer to the word(s) it describes or limits.

Dangling modifier:  While searching the web, a virus infiltrated my computer.

Revision:  While searching the web, I discovered that a virus had infiltrated my computer.

Misplaced modifier:  She died in the house in which she was born at the age of 88.

Revision:  At the age of 88, she died in the house in which she was born.

To detect—and remedy—dangling modifiers, ask the question who or what?after an introductory phrase. The words immediately following should tell the reader who or what is performing the action.

Dangling modifier:  After working ten hours, the report was finally completed.

Revision:  After working ten hours, we finally completed the report.

Students: Find the dangling or misplaced modifier and rewrite the sentence correctly.

  1. After leaving the office, Sarita’s car would not start.
  2. Skilled with accounting software, the personnel manager hired Ann Pearson, CPA.
  3. Skilled at graphic design, the contract went to DesignPlus.
  4. Walking up the driveway, the Hummer parked in the garage was immediately noticed by detectives.
  5. To meet the deadline, your Excel figures must be received before June 1.
  6. As an important customer to us, we would like to tell you that we have moved our administrative offices.
  7. The attorney said his client was returning from the swimming pool when, without warning, she was bitten by a snake on her right foot.
  8. The Park Hotel is just one of the Art Deco buildings you can see strolling about South Beach.
  9. Firemen rescued a dog from a car that had a broken leg.
  10. Acting as CEO, several new employees were hired by Mr. Sanchez.
  11. I accept your kind offer to serve on the committee that I received on May 3.
  12. To find a good job, diligence and perseverance are needed.

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers Exercise


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