Tag Archives: grammar exercise

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


Eliminating Sentence Structure Errors

[Instructors: Download the exercise and key at the end of the post.]

Some of the most common complaints about writing in the workplace involve three sentence structure errors.


A fragment is usually a broken-off part of a sentence. Fragments often can be identified by the words that introduce them–words such as although, as, because, even, except, for example, if, instead of, since, such as, that, which, and when.

Example: Jeremy loaded his résumé with keywords and relevant skills. Which is why he            couldn’t understand receiving no responses.

Improved: Jeremy loaded his résumé with keywords and relevant skills, which is why he couldn’t understand receiving no responses.

Run-on (fused) sentence. A sentence with two independent clauses must be joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but) or by a semicolon. Without a conjunction or a semicolon, a run-on sentence results:

Example: Becca considered an internship she also thought about graduate school.

Improved: Becca considered an internship, but she also thought about graduate school.

Improved: Becca considered an internship; she also thought about graduate school.

Comma splice. When a writer joins (splices together) two independent clauses without using a coordinating conjunction, a comma splice results.

Example: Jeremy disliked networking, however he knew how important it was.

Improved: Jeremy disliked networking; however, he knew how important it was.

ImprovedJeremy disliked networking, but he knew how important it was.

Study the following. Identify fragments, run-ons, and comma splices. For each item write an improved version. If a sentence is correct, write C.

  1. Jeremy mailed over a hundred beautifully written résumés. Which is why he was depressed when he didn’t receive quick responses.
  2. To come up with a tagline that describes what you do and who you are. Ask yourself questions about what you are really good at.
  3. Candidates can’t anticipate precise questions, however they can expect to be asked about their education, skills, experience, and availability.
  4. An elevator speech is a pitch you can deliver in 60 seconds it tells who you are and what you can offer.
  5. Becca hoped to find a job in marketing, however she was willing to consider other offers.
  6. If possible, call in advance to inquire about what to wear, also ask how to prepare.
  7. Some job candidates go a step further they prepare professional-looking business cards with their name and tagline.
  8. In today’s challenging and digital job market, the focus is not so much on what you want but on what the employer needs.
  9. Although you may be changing jobs and careers in the future. You still need to train for a specific career area now. 
  10. Zack saw no value in preparing a résumé at this time. Because he was only a sophomore and searching for a job was a distant and distressing task.
  11. Employment counselors suggest learning more about careers they recommend taking a summer job, an internship, or a part-time position in your field.
  12. Having a current résumé makes you look well-organized and professional. If an unexpected employment opportunity should arise.
  13. With over 50,000 job boards and employment websites deluging the Internet. It’s hard to know where to start.
  14. Early in her academic career, Becca begin monitoring advertisements and websites in her career area, Jeremy preferred to wait.
  15. Recruiters seem to favor chronological résumés. Which is good because they are easier to write than functional résumés.



Polishing Parallelism


Instructors: Download the exercise and key at the end of this post.

shutterstock_310419806Although parallelism sounds as if it might be a gymnastic feat, it is a skillful writing technique that involves balanced writing. Sentences written so that their parts are balanced or parallel are easy to read and understand. Parallelism satisfies our basic love of symmetry. We remember expressions such as of the people, by the people, for the people and Seeing is believing (not Seeing is to believe).

To achieve parallel construction, use similar structures to express similar ideas. For example, the words computing, recording, and storing are parallel because the words all end in ­–ing. To express the list as computing, recording, and storage is disturbing because the last item is not what the reader expects. Try to match nouns with nouns, verbs with verbs, and clauses with clauses. Avoid mixing active-voice verbs with passive-voice verbs. Your goal is to keep the wording balanced when expressing similar ideas.

Lacks Parallelism

Achieves Parallelism

Candidates must be reliable, creative, and show enthusiasm. Candidates must be reliable, creative, and enthusiastic.
The committee is expected to monitor timeliness, quality is to be verified, and provide feedback. The committee is expected to monitor timeliness, verify quality, and provide feedback.
Our advertisements have three objectives:

  1. We want to increase product use.
  2. Introduce complementary products.
  3. Our corporate image must be enhanced.
Our advertisements have three objectives:

  1. Increase product use
  2. Introduce complementary products
  3. Enhance our corporate image
Not only must we check our website, but also monitoring the entire Internet is necessary. Not only must we check our website, but also we must monitor the entire Internet.

Improve the following sentences by perfecting opportunities for parallelism.

  1. My boss is well-informed, witty, and she is fair.
  2. Business messages must be concise, correct, and written with clarity.
  3. In preparing to write a business report, you should determine the report purpose, identify the relevant issues, and then information must be collected.
  4. Good listeners do the following:
    1. They usually stop talking.
    2. Remove distractions.
    3. Questions are asked but they must be relevant.
  5. Guidelines for improving workplace safety include changing locks before moving into a new office, interior lights should be left on even when the business is closed, and fire exits must always be kept unlocked.
  6. Not only do we design and support your new wireless network, but also troubleshooting and free consulting are provided by us.
  7. The most important considerations for today’s job candidates are the salary, the environment of work, and candidates give special consideration to career advancement opportunities.
  8. This week’s program is all about money—earning it, investing it, and how you will spend it!
  9. A high-powered MBA costs hundreds of dollars an hour. Our program covers the same sage advice:
    1. Starting a business
    2. You will learn information about writing a business plan and understanding taxes.
    3. How to write a marketing feasibility study
    4. Employment benefits plans and licensing requirements are studied.
  10. Not only were the training sessions stimulating, but also they were a challenge.
  11. The proposal will elaborate on (a) dealing with the public, (b) how to obtain corporate contributions, and (c) the timing of a marketing campaign.
  12. One way small businesses can attract talented employees is to provide opportunities to telecommute, working in virtual teams, and encourage employees to collaborate online.
  13. Classes will be available in training for strength, being flexible, reduction of stress, and aerobic/cardiovascular conditioning.
  14. We have hired a consultant to help managers stay on track with the new organizational plan, team resources must be developed, and they will monitor customer feedback.
  15. [Convert to a vertical list.] To make a YouTube video you should first obtain a video recording device such as a cell phone, webcam, or camcorder. The most popular YouTube videos are video blogs, comedy skits, how-to videos, and travel videos. Decide what you want to make. Remember that your video must be 10 minutes or less for traditional YouTube membership accounts. You will want to create a video with good light quality, and that usually means daytime recording. Finally, be sure to use computer editing software to change or delete anything.

    Instructors: Download the exercise Polishing Parallelism hereDownload the key to Polishing Parallelism here.