Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that is meant to modify a word somewhere else in the sentence, but it is not clear what the word is being modified.

For example:
After reading the original study, the article remains unconvincing. 
[The article read the original study?]

Possible revision:
After reading the original study, I found the article to still be unconvincing.

Dangling modifiers frequently occur at the beginning of sentences, but can also occur at the end.

For example:
The experiment was a failure, having not studied the lab manual carefully. 
[The experiment didn’t study the lab manual?]

Possible revision:
The experiment was a failure because they did not study the lab manual carefully.

Strategies for revising dangling modifiers
• Name the appropriate doer of the action as the subject of the main clause.

Dangling modifier: Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed.
[Who arrived late for practice?]
Revision: Having arrived late for practice, the player needed a written excuse.

• Name the appropriate doer of the action in the phrase that dangles

Dangling modifier: Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
[Who didn’t know his name?]
Revision: Because Maria did not know his name, it was difficult to introduce him.

• Combine the dangling phrase and main clause into one.

Dangling modifier: To improve his results, the experiment was done again.

Revision: He improved his results by doing the experiment again.

Examples courtesy of Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), http://owl.english.purdue.edu