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.
After reading the original study, the article remains unconvincing.
[The article read the original study?]
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.
The experiment was a failure, having not studied the lab manual carefully.
[The experiment didn’t study the lab manual?]
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.
Examples courtesy of Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), http://owl.english.purdue.edu