Grandma\’s Tales

January 8, 2007

Grammar – 23 Dangling “by” a thread!

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 6:35 am

In the previous post, we saw how you can get ambiguous when you misuse “by”.  You can get absurd as well.  All you need to do is to start a modifier with “by” (called a “by” construction – a shaky one, of course) and leave it dangling. Like this:

By deleting the first name and designation of the Somali Premier, readers were left confused by the news item “NOTHING TO WORRY, SAYS PREMIER“.

This appeared in a newspaper and it’s a mess. I very strongly suggest that you don’t waste time and energy hauling word bricks to build something like this.
Let’s take the errors one by one.
[1] The first part in bold is the modifier (meaning it adds to the information given in the second part after the comma). But it doesn’t say who is doing the deleting. So we have no choice but to think it is the readers. Come on, the modifier is placed nearest the word “reader”, right?
If the reader is the one doing the deleting job, why is he confused? Ok, don’t glare at me. If the reader is not the deleter, then who is? Bad, bad.
You need three things to fix the first part – the answer for ‘who’, a proper verb (‘deleting’ lost its rank as a verb) and a connecting word. Together these will put sense into the dangling modifier and get it on firm ground.
My choice of three salves: who deleted – the newspaper, verb – deleted, connecting word – when
Now put it together: When the newspaper deleted the first name and designation of the Somali Premier, readers were left confused by the news item “NOTHING TO WORRY (?), SAYS PREMIER“.
[2] And “Nothing to worry”? Yes, there is . It is the deletion of the word “about”. Make that “NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, SAYS PREMIER. Surely newspapers can afford that extra ink for the word!

Quiz: fix this sentence.
By removing the billboards on Airport Road, the aircraft were able to take off and land in safer conditions.

Advertisements

6 Comments »

  1. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    When the authorities removed the billboards on the airport road, the aircraft (aircraftS ?) were able to take off and land in safer conditions.

    Comment by Varun — January 14, 2007 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  2. Right Varun! And “aircraft” is used in the plural as well.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — January 16, 2007 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  3. removing the billboards on the airport road has ensured safer conditions for the landing and take off of aircrafts

    Comment by anjana — April 25, 2007 @ 9:30 am | Reply

  4. That’s right, anjana.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — April 26, 2007 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  5. hi ma’am, i’m one of your students at the iit coaching classes. i have enjoyed your classes very much and i have thoroughly enjoyed your blogs too.do keep going.Proud to be your student,
    lovingly yours,
    surya

    Comment by suryaprabha — April 27, 2007 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  6. Hi suryaprapha, thanks so much. This blog is definitely meant for students like you.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — April 27, 2007 @ 9:13 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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: