Q: What is a dangling modifier?
A: A dangling modifier is a grammatical error in which the structure of the sentence associates the modifier with
a word other than the word the writer intended.
Groucho Marx uttered one
of the best and funniest in one of the Marx Brothers films when he said, "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."
Obviously, Groucho was wearing the
pajamas, but you can't really tell that from the construction of the sentence. Grammatically, it is possible that the elephant
wore them. The writer intends to modify the subject, but inadvertently modifies the object. It's a sure way to kill your message,
primarily because the readers will probably be convulsed with laughter. For example:
in dilapidated condition, I was able to purchase the property within budget."
- After being
buried in our filing room for years, I discovered the minutes of that all-important meeting."
express our thanks to the Posts Office for the kind service they provide and for the patience they have with little old ladies
in mailing packages.
- Do not sit in the chair without being fully assembled.
- In 2001 he bought the majority of company stock along with his mother.
- Two company
automobiles were reported stolen by Corporate Security this week.
- The tractor trailer hit a
telephone pole traveling at 50 miles per hour.
- Our founder died in the home in which she was
born at the age of 87.
- No one was injured in the blast, which was attributed to a buildup of
gas by one town official.
As always, forgo the urge to dash
off your words of wisdom and take a moment to review those words. Often, you'll find your missive contains the proverbial
elephant in the room - a dangling modifier.
# # #
GREAT SUPPORT DEPT. If you're in need of help regarding formatting for e-publishing and paperback
versions of those books I highly recommend you check out Deborah Lewis' website. She has just completed several projects
for me in getting a book on Amazon and on CreateSpace and she has always gone the proverbial extra mile in helping me
with professional services and sound advice. Log on to http://www.arenapublishing.org/ She'll be handling similar duties on my next novel because her fees are reasonable, she knows what she's doing, and
I know it'll be done right - and I can focus my time on writing the next book in the line up.
Here is an example of what a formatted book cover looks like. Cover art is by Annette Yeates Tolliver and the formatting
is by Deborah Lewis.
Comments View Comments