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Funny Dangling Modifiers: How to Identify and Fix Them


You all know we enjoy a good laugh at some of the grammar myths and punctuation faux pas out there.

Funny dangling modifiers are some of our favorite grammar mistakes to find out in the wild. We get a real kick out of the mental images we get from trying to decipher what the author really meant.

What is a dangling modifier?

First of all, what is a modifier? A modifier is an adjective or noun, a part of the sentence, that gives more detail about another noun.

Modifying phrases should appear right next to the word they describe.

A dangling modifier happens when a word modifies the wrong subject. These errors also happen when the subject of the main clause is unclear or missing from the sentence.

Just to confuse things even more, there are also misplaced modifiers. Words that are put in the wrong place within a sentence and modify the wrong thing are called misplaced modifiers. They can change the intended meaning of a sentence.

Squinting modifiers occur when a modifier is placed between two things it could apply to. This makes it unclear which thing the modifier is referencing.

How do you identify a dangling modifier?

Dangling modifiers usually appear at the beginning of a sentence.

The hallmark of a dangling modifier is a missing subject. This means that there is nothing doing the action in the sentence. 

Example: After leaving the house, the car was started. 

In this sentence, the doer (the subject) of the action is missing. Who started the car?

Here are some of the sentences of the funniest modifier errors.

How do you fix dangling modifiers?

Proofreaders and editors can find dangling modifiers in all genres of writing, so it’s vital to know how to correct these errors.

You can fix a dangling modifier by adding a subject, or someone/something doing the action in the sentence.

Example

Dangling: After leaving the house, the car was started. 

Better: After leaving the house, I started the car. 

To fix a dangling modifier, you often have to add more words to the sentence to avoid confusion. 

Another way to fix these issues is to rewrite the sentence to change two clauses into one clause. 

Example

Dangling: To make the most of the buffet, all the food was eaten.

Better: Sarah ate all the food to make the most of the buffet. 

Now we know who the Hungry Harry was! 

Examples of Funny Dangling Modifiers

Now, let’s take a look at these hilarious errors…

funny dangling modifier example: After their death, my sisters took the plants outside.

Eek! Is this a horror story or a story about gardening? 

Dangling: After their death, my sisters took the plants outside.

Better: After the plants died, my sisters took them outside.

Better: My sisters took the dead plants outside.

Funny dangling modifier example: the cops chased the bear in the squad car.

This sounds like something that Yogi Bear would do! 

Dangling: The cops chased the bear in the squad car.

Better: The cops, in their squad car, chased the bear. 

Better: In their squad car, the cops chased the bear. 

funny dangling modifier example: After finishing my dinner, the waitress offered to bring the dessert tray

What a terrible waitress!

Dangling: After finishing my dinner, the waitress offered to bring out the dessert tray.

Better: When I finished my dinner, the waitress offered to bring out the dessert tray. 

funny dangling modifier example: while waiting for the bus, the time went by quickly

You never know what kind of crazy things you’ll see at the bus stop!

Dangling: While waiting for the bus, the time went by quickly.

Better: While waiting for the bus, I felt the time went by quickly.

Better: The time went by quickly while I was waiting for the bus.  

funny dangling modifier example: margaret read the note taped to the wall.

This sentence really does paint an image, doesn’t it?! Who else is worried for Margaret’s safety?

Dangling: Margaret read the note taped to the wall

Better: Margaret read the note that was taped to the wall. 

Want more examples? Check out what the Comma Queen has to say on the subject!

Dangling Modifier Exercise

Want to test what you learned? Try your hand at fixing these dangling modifiers! 

You can find sample answers below the image at the bottom of this post. Remember that there can be more than one correct answer as there are different ways to fix dangling modifiers. 

1. After completing the course, proofreading was easy.

2. While driving to Maryland, my dog stuck his head out of the car window. 

3. Starving, the three-day-old pizza was devoured.

4. With a grunt of disapproval, the newspaper was thrown on the table.  

5. Having done the laundry, the bed was made.

Want More Information?

Want to keep the fun going and learn more about grammar? Watch our free proofreading workshop to learn how you can make a career out of fixing grammar errors!

Need a grammar refresher? Check out our Look Better in Writing eBook to enhance your skills.

Sample answers:

1. After completing the course, Sally found that proofreading was easy.

2. While I was driving to Maryland, my dog stuck his head out of the car window. 

3. Starving, Joe devoured the three-day-old pizza. 

4. With a grunt of disapproval, Rita threw the newspaper on the table.

5. Having done the laundry, Jack made the bed. 


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  1. These were fun and reminded me that there's more to proofreading than punctuation.

  2. A dangling modifier can be such fun !

    When I read anything, my proofreading skills turn on automatically. I am amazed at the errors, especially on the Internet, to the point of it being a pet peeve !

    1. My question is about "only." To me there seems to be only one place in the sentence to place this word: directly before the words it is limiting.

      "There seems to only be one place . . ." should read as I have it above.

      "He only has five dollars" should read "He has only five dollars."

      "If only I understood what he was talking about" should read "If I only understood. . ."

      However, I've been told and have read that I am not correct in this assumption.

  3. Wow its all about modification of sentences !

    for example : She is going to Delhi at her brother's marriage.

    This sentence doesn't make any sense .

    So we can say;
    Jennifer is going to Delhi at her beloved brother's marriage.

    Hence, i love to discover and learn new things. It was amazing.

  4. it was," Fred whispered to harry as they got up from the table. "we sent it."(5)— throwing the paper airplane at him,"i wouldn't chuck knives at them.

  5. People are predictable animals, and whatever conflicts with what we are familiar with can appear to be insane or clashing with what we are utilized to.

  6. This is a wonderful newsletter. I took this course over a year ago (and passed the exam); I have been a proofreader on a part-time basis. I love getting this newsletter; please keep me on the list. Thank you.

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