Author Topic: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?  (Read 2137 times)

Offline undeadpetals

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Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« on: May 22, 2010, 01:44:26 AM »
Once my teacher explained to me the concept of a "dangling modifier", which, if anyone here has heard of this expression, is the first phrase, before the first comma, that is a modifier for the actual subject of the sentence (or following phrase, after the first comma).

Last Edit: Today
I decided to separate the sentence into two.
Does it read clearer?


She was hesitant to hack the vegetables, tossing her eyes away from her work and rattling her fingernails across the decrepit wood. The boy, however, was fascinated of vegetables, particularly of their quiet structures and dryly wet odor, but the sound of her unkempt nails rapped the inside of his forehead.


« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 03:26:00 AM by undeadpetals »
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Offline Don

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Re: Technicality and sound of a phrase
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2010, 06:26:00 AM »
UP - Your instincts are correct--when it comes to dialogue or a character's thoughts, the reader will assume this is how the character speaks or thinks.

That said, the sentence (both versions) seems a bit clumsy. I don't know what "dedicated things" are in relation to a meal. I would recast it to read something like: I hope you ate everything, foolish girl.

You would know best. The character should think these words exactly as if she were speaking them aloud.

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Offline ma100

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Re: Technicality and sound of a phrase
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 06:36:07 AM »
Hiya, I am not really understanding the context of this, but I think she has drugged or poisoned her. I am just wondering why she would think or speak it this way. Dedicated pieces just sounds strange to me.

Why was the girl foolish?

I need a little more info to understand what you are trying to do. ;)

Offline undeadpetals

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2010, 07:49:40 AM »
I don't know if MWC has a rule that forbids (or dislikes) it that users make new topics when they recently made one with no more than two responses. Either way, I felt a little bad to make a new topic.  :-X
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Offline ma100

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2010, 09:53:29 AM »
The posting on the review boards is the ones restricted to one post a day UD. ;)

Offline A.J.B

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 10:15:19 AM »
Once my teacher explained to me the concept of a "dangling modifier", which, if anyone here has heard of this expression, is the first phrase, before the first comma, that is a modifier for the actual subject of the sentence (or following phrase, after the first comma). Here is a sentence that worries me:


Though the boy thought they were fascinating to look at, she was rather hesitant to hack the vegetables, minding away from her work and tapping her unkempt fingernails across the decrepit wood.


What the boy "thought fascinating to look at" are the vegetables, but I am worried it actually reads like I misused the "they", for the subject of the sentence is really her. Are you seeing my error as I do?

When I read the sentence I was utterly confused as I thought you had mentioned a boy and then put she instead of he. Also, I have always went by the rule that a sentence that has two commas should always be a complete sentence if the middle section is removed. This isn't. For example:

John looked across the street and, with a noticeable limp, hurried across the road.

If you were to remove 'with a noticeable limp,' the sentence would still make perfect sense.

When you remove your middle bit you have the following: Though the boy thought they were fascinating to look at minding away from her work and tapping her unkempt fingernails across the decrepit wood.

Which doesn't make sense. There are some exceptions to the rule I mentioned above, but I don't think your sentence is one of them. I think it would work better as two sentences and a little tweaking:

The boy thought they were fascinating to look at. Despite his fascination she was rather hesitant to hack at the vegetables, minding away from her work and tapping her unkempt fingernails across the decrepit wood.

Although I must say the 'minding away' part makes no sense to me (everything after and including that part).
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Offline undeadpetals

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 07:30:58 PM »

When you remove your middle bit you have the following: Though the boy thought they were fascinating to look at minding away from her work and tapping her unkempt fingernails across the decrepit wood.

Which doesn't make sense. There are some exceptions to the rule I mentioned above, but I don't think your sentence is one of them. I think it would work better as two sentences and a little tweaking:

The boy thought they were fascinating to look at. Despite his fascination she was rather hesitant to hack at the vegetables, minding away from her work and tapping her unkempt fingernails across the decrepit wood.

Although I must say the 'minding away' part makes no sense to me (everything after and including that part).

Would the part after the 'minding away' make more sense if I gave more context? I did mention two characters: a little boy and a servant girl. They both live in a tired orphanage, yet they aren't conversing with each other; he's just observing her work, and she, introspectively, doesn't enjoy her work that much.

Regardless, I like your suggestion of splitting the sentence into two parts, that way I won't be struggling with more than one subject in the sentence.
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Offline A.J.B

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2010, 07:41:27 PM »
I am not sure more context would help. I just don't think I have heard the phrase 'minding away' before :P
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Offline Max Zvyagintsev

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2010, 04:42:56 AM »
I like what you've written here. You've described it clearly, and used both sight and smell to show the scene. Sure you could add a few more extra bits and pieces here and there, but it sounds like a strong base.

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Offline A.J.B

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2010, 07:48:46 AM »
I think the way you have edited it flows much better.

Well done :)
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Offline undeadpetals

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Re: Dangling modifier: Is this correct?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2010, 03:28:15 AM »
Seems that my last edit was praised, but I changed it again, slightly, to insert some details.

Thank you everyone. I appreciate your thoughtful suggestions. :D
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." -Charlie Chaplin

Better to be stupid for a second than ignorant forever.