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Isolating mid-sentence dangling modifiers

Home » Educational modules » LEP posts » Syntax & Semantics » Isolating mid-sentence dangling modifiers

Case for isolating present participles after the coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS)

In some situations where there is a dangling modifier (which is “a type of misplaced modifier” according to Meghan Jones at Reader’s Digest), there can also be nothing (no subject) at all to modify. These are faulty syntactic constructions that would need to be addressed (as in weeded out), as they are inelegant and illogical.

Examples

Below are syntactic constructions with participial phases that make each sentence flawed: the participial phrase (bolded and italicized) is dangling, or basically stranded because it has no apparent syntactic function (grammatical relationship) to anything in the sentence. A corrected version appears below each incorrect example, indicating both the participle and the subject.

She leaned her forehead on the windowpane and, welcoming the coolness on her skin, let the tears come. ❌

She leaned her forehead on the windowpane, and welcoming the coolness on her skin, he let the tears come.
He went to the window and, looking out of it, saw a somewhat older-looking boy on a donkey. ❌

He went to the window, and looking out of it, he saw a somewhat older-looking boy on a donkey.
He placed himself beside her and, turning his back to the night, perched the back of his forearm on top of the wooden rail bar. ❌

He placed himself beside her, and turning his back to the night, he perched the back of his forearm on top of the wooden rail bar.

MCINTOSHFORMS™

Search parameter type

Regex

MS Word instructions

  1. Select the Advanced Find tool to open the Find and Replace dialog.
  2. If the search parameter type is Text, skip this step. Otherwise, expand the Move>> button to show the Search Options and select Use wildcards.
  3. Copy the customized search parameter provided below and paste it into the Find what field.
  4. Observe any placeholder square brackets with the word item ([ITEM]) within the search parameter and take the necessary steps to modify the parameter according to the Legend list.
  5. Click the Find Next button to move through (select) each highlighted constituent. Alternatively, instead of clicking the results individually, you may just want to highlight all of them at once (perhaps to get an idea of the quantity). To do so while you are still in the Find and Replace dialog, click the Reading Highlight button and then select Highlight All.

Parameter items

  • Coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS):
    • for
    • and
    • nor
    • but
    • or
    • yet
    • so

Customized search parameter

Mid-sentence after a coordinating conjunction

[ITEM], [a-z]@ing>

Legend

  • Placeholder square brackets with the word item ([ITEM]) indicates a parameter item with which to overwrite the placeholder, including the square brackets.
  • Placeholder items in parentheses ( ) indicates where linguistic units such as morphemes, phonemes, etc., are optional.
  • Placeholder underscore ( ) indicates a space is obligatory.
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie started out in administration in the fields of healthcare, project management and database development. Since 2016, he has been working to further develop himself as a fiction writer while working on his grammatical and linguistic pursuits. He considers that storytelling is analogous to communication. Garie writes stories with strong, authentic characters that are defined by strong writing and themes, and he thereby reinforces the power of communication. He has written and published his first novel, What's in a Name. Garie has created and developed McIntoshLinguistics, an educational and grammatical editing business for manuscripts. It offers tools to provide grammatical editing that identifies and/or addresses errors, irregularities or ambiguities in manuscripts.

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