Dangling Modifier – Detection & Correction

05.02.23 Language rules Time to read: 4min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


A dangling modifier is a common grammatical error that occurs when a modifying phrase or word in a sentence is unclear or ambiguously linked to the noun it’s supposed to modify. This typically results in a sentence that can be confusing, misinterpreted, or even unlogical. Developing an understanding of dangling modifiers, their potential impact, and the methods to detect and correct them is an essential part of mastering written English language rules. Learn more in this article.

Dangling Modifier – In a Nutshell

  • Dangling modifiers: misplaced or hanging participles, and words modifying the wrong noun.
  • To spot a dangling modifier, look for phrases written in a way that modifies the wrong noun.
  • Two methods for fixing a dangling modifier: revising the main clause and the modifier clause.
  • It’s crucial to understand the potential of these errors and to proofread and fix them.

Definition: Dangling modifier

A modifier is a word or phrase that clarifies or gives more information about another part of a sentence. However, a dangling modifier can occur when the intended subject of the modifier isn’t present in the sentence, and instead, another subject replaces the intended one.

They often appear as introductory phrases that are not connected to the appropriate noun or subject in the sentence. Here is a table with an example of a dangling modifier and the correct version:

Dangling Modifier Corrected Version
After reading the novel, the story remains questionable After reading the novel, I find the story questionable
The exam was hard, not having studied the unit in advance They failed the exam, not having studied the unit in advance
Searching in his car, the phone could not be found Searching in his car, he could not find the phone
Print your thesis for 0€
  • Post a picture on Instagram
  • Get the most likes on your picture
  • Receive up to 300€ cash back

Identifying a Dangling modifier

To identify a dangling modifier, it is important to pay attention to the placement of the modifier in the sentence and check if it is clearly linked to the noun it is modifying. A sentence that has been modified correctly should position the modifier so that it accurately describes the noun.


“I lost my keys while walking to the store.”

The modifier “while walking to the store” is correctly linked to the subject “I” and clearly explains when the action of losing keys occurred.

However, if the same sentence is written as “Walking to the store, my keys were lost.” It becomes a dangling modifier as it is unclear who was walking to the store, and the modifier “walking to the store” is not linked to a noun.

Fixing a Dangling modifier

There are two main methods for fixing a dangling modifier:

  • Revising the main clause
  • Revising the modifier clause

Both methods aim to clearly link the modifier to the noun it is modifying and remove any ambiguity from the sentence.

Revising the main clause

This method involves rephrasing the sentence in a way that the modifier will be linked clearly to the noun it is modifying. It can be done by reordering the words in the sentence or adding a subject to the sentence.


An incorrect main clause with a dangling modifier:

“Walking to school, my pen was lost”

The modifier “walking to school” is not linked to a noun, and it is unclear who is walking.

The corrected version would be:

“I lost my pen while walking to school.”

The modifier “while walking school” is clearly linked to the subject “I,” and it is clear who is doing the action.

Revising the modifier clause

A modifier clause is a clause that modifies or describes a noun or verb in the sentence. The modifier clause must be placed close to the noun or verb it is modifying to avoid confusion and to ensure proper grammar.


Incorrect modifier clause:

“Walking to the store, the ice cream melted in my hand.” In this sentence, it is unclear who or what is walking to the store.

The corrected version would be:

“While I was walking to the store, the ice cream melted in my hand.”

Below are a few more examples of incorrect modifier clauses and their corrected versions:


Incorrect Modifier Clause Corrected Main Clause
Eating pizza, the movie began The movie began while we were eating pizza
Running down the street, the sign was seen I saw the sign while running down the street
Incorrect Modifier Clause Corrected Main Clause
After finishing the project, the presentation was given by the team After the team finished the project, they gave the presentation
Sitting in the car, the radio was turned on. While sitting in the car, I turned on the radio.

Note: The context and meaning of the sentence should be kept in mind while revising the main clause to avoid any miscommunication or misinterpretation.

Print your dissertation at BachelorPrint!
For students in Ireland, our printing services have got you covered. Avail of high quality for printing and binding your dissertation, starting from just 7,90 €. That’s not all! On top, take advantage of our FREE express delivery and receive your order in no time.


A dangling modifier is a type of modifier clause that is not clearly connected to the noun or verb it is supposed to modify.

Words such as “after,” “before,” “while,” “during,” and “since” are often used to begin a modifier clause, and if they are not used correctly, they can cause a dangling modifier.

A good way is to identify the noun or verb the modifier clause intends to modify and see if it is placed close to the modifier clause in the sentence. If it is not, it may be a dangling modifier.

Yes, one tip to avoid a dangling modifier is to make sure the subject of the modifier is clear and directly relates to the subject of the sentence. Another tip is to check your sentence for any word or phrase that often leads to a dangling modifier.