Grandma\’s Tales

December 9, 2006

Grammar – 18 Leave the dangling to Tarzan! 2

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 10:57 pm

Do read the previous post before you step in here.

Having been thrown in the air, the dog caught the stick. Here, the first part is expected to travel magically toward “stick” and neutralise the absurdity. But what we readers get is this: the dog was thrown in the air, and caught the stick. Guess it was a small dog.

How will you fix it?
The stick was thrown in the air and the dog caught it.
The dog caught the stick thrown in the air.
(“thrown in the air” now sticks to the stick, which is what it should stick to.)

What do we do when we restore danglers?

  1. Check for modifying phrases at the beginning of the sentences.
  2. If we find one, we underline the first noun that follows it. (That’s the one that is being modified.)
  3. We make sure the modifier and noun go together logically. If they don’t, chances are we have a dangling modifier.
  4. We rewrite the sentence.

Let’s take a potshot at another:

Chatting away as if they were picking up a conversation they'd started yesterday
morning, I got an earful.
This is an extra-ordinary sentence. It has three modifiers - "chatting away",
"as if they...conversation", "they'd started yesterday morning" - yet is short
of sense. Who was chatting away?
RULE:
[1] Add a noun or pronoun to the dangler.
[2] Add a verb.
[3] Add a connecting word.
This infusion will act like oxygen and revive the dangler. Ok, now, let's pick
"they" (subject), "chatted" (verb) and "As" (connecting word). Let's fill the gaps
with these words.
As they ( a couple of ladies actually) chatted away as if they were picking up a 
conversation they'd started yesterday morning, I got an earful. Clear, isn't it? 
Try adding these three when you spot a dangler. It will dangle no more.
Quiz:
[1] Covered in discarded mountaineering debris and suffering under thousands of
tourists' boots every year, environmental groups are to push for a radical solution.
(Clue: What is covered...? The Himalayas, let's assume.)
[2] Baked, boiled, or fried, you can make potatoes a part of almost any meal.
[3] I had to take down the photographs, painting the house yesterday.
Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. Turning in the quiz answers 🙂

    [1] The environmental groups are to push for a radical solution because the
    himalayas are covered in discarded mountaineering debris and suffering
    under thousands of tourists’ boots every year.

    As the Himalayas are covered in discarded mountaineering debris and
    suffering under thousands of tourists’ boots every year, the
    environmental groups are to push for a radical solution.

    [2] Potatoes can be baked, boiled or fried and made part of almost any meal.

    Baked, boiled, or fried potatoes can be part of almost any meal.

    Baked, boiled, or fried- potatoes can be part of almost any meal!

    [3] As I was painting the house yesterday, I had to take down the
    photographs.

    I had to take down the photographs because I was painting the house
    yesterday.

    Comment by Rashmi — December 12, 2006 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Rashmi,
    Bingo again! You got out the meaning absolutely right! May be the guys who wrote those sentences (the howlers are all from newspapers) should take lessons from you! I love the dash in the second one.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — December 12, 2006 @ 6:29 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: