Grandma\’s Tales

February 12, 2007

Grammar – 18 Leave dangling to Tarzan! 3

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 10:56 pm

As I clicked the wordpress page to reach my part of the blogosphere, this sentence hit me.
Shocked and appalled, it strikes you that your identity has been stolen and that you must act quickly to protect yourself from further damage.
I am shocked and appalled at the way this sentence is constructed. The question here is obvious.
Who is “shocked and appalled”? Is it “I”, “you” or someone else? If you’ve been reading the earlier posts on dangling modifiers, you’d know that “shocked and appalled” is a modifier (a phrase that adds to information on a noun, pronoun or a verb). You will also know that the modifier latches on to the nearest noun or pronoun and becomes its modifier.
Unfortunately, the nearest pronoun here is a dummy “it”. This two-letter word is there to perform a grammatical function. The verb “strikes” needs a subject and “it” provides that subject. This pronoun (it) does not stand for a noun going before, as in, John had a cat. It was grey. The “it” here stands for the cat, right?
But the “it” in our accused sentence has no such antecedent. So the phrase “shocked and appalled” has been left dangling.
How will you fix the sentence? I leave that to you with this clue. You need a subject, a verb and a connecting word.
While you try to crack it, you could have a go at these sentences as well – one from a  wordpress blog, the other from NBC.com.
[2] While waiting for the light to change at the corner of 14th and 3rd this morning, a girl blew cigarette smoke in my face while I was taking a swig of juice.
Ask yourself: who is waiting?
[3] On the way to an errand today, there was a nicely dressed man walking down the block in front of me who brazenly broke the law in broad daylight: he spat.
Ask yourself: who is on the way to an errand?

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