The following I copied from Wiki: “A dangling modifier (a specific case of which is the dangling participle) is an ambiguous grammatical construct, whereby a grammatical modifier could be misinterpreted as being associated with a word other than the one intended, or with no particular word at all. For example, a writer may have meant to modify the subject, but word order makes the modifier seem to modify an object instead. Such ambiguities can lead to unintentional humor or difficulty in understanding a sentence in formal contexts.”
I wish no disrespect to the person who wrote this. I assume it is a professor because one can’t understand what they say to begin with. A few things I would like to point out. I loved the phrase ” a writer may have meant to modify the subject, but word order makes the modifier seem to modify the object.” First; as a writer I rarely know what I mean to do other than make myself clear. I am not sure I want to modify anything. Second, I had to laugh at “the modifier seem to modify the object.” I laugh-not loud-because it sounds funny. I might as well be reading Latin.
Examples are needed for clarity. Fortunately, the writer provides some. Here they are: “A typical example of a dangling modifier is illustrated in Turning the corner, a handsome school building appeared. The modifying clause Turning the corner is clearly supposed to describe the behaviour of the narrator (or other observer), but grammatically it appears to apply to nothing in particular, or to the school building. Similarly, in At the age of eight, my family finally bought a dog, the modifier At the age of eight “dangles,” not attaching to the subject of the main clause (and conceivably implying that the family was eight years old when it bought the dog, rather than the intended meaning of giving the narrator’s age at the time.”
Even if the first example is wrong, it makes sense to me. The second example is clearly wrong and I see the problem here much better than the first. No writer wants to
a participle or modifier. So pay attention when proofreading. Make sure you know what each clause is saying, that it is clear, and that you are not dangling over the precipice at the abyss of confusion.
If you want to purchase one of my e-books and check for dangling participles and modifiers please don’t let me stop you.
Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms: http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tales-other-Phantasms-Nelson-ebook/dp/B00G9JND9Q/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393214095&sr=1-2