Dangling Modifier – Examples & How to Fix It

05.02.23 Grammatical rules & structures Time to read: 4min

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Dangling modifiers are a type of grammatical error in which a modifier is written in a way that is unclear to which noun it is modifying. This can lead to confusion or misinterpretation of the sentence. Luckily, most of these errors can be avoided, so it’s essential to be aware and learn how to fix them.

Dangling Modifier – In a Nutshell

  • Common occurrences of dangling modifiers include misplaced participles, hanging participles, and phrases that modify the wrong noun.
  • To spot a dangling modifier, look for phrases written in a way that modifies the wrong noun.
  • There are two main methods for fixing a dangling modifier: Revising the main clause and revising 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 phone1
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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.2

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.


“Walking to school, my pen was lost”

An incorrect main clause with a dangling modifier.

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

“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.

Example of an 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 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

It’s important to note that the context and meaning of the sentence should be kept in mind while revising the main clause to avoid any miscommunication or misinterpretation.

Incorrect Modifier Clause Corrected Version
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.3
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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.


1 Purdue Online Writing Lab. “Dangling Modifiers and How To Correct Them.” Purdue University. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/dangling_modifiers_and_how_to_correct_them.html.

2 Gina. “Dangling Modifiers – What They Are and How To Correct Them.” Insights by Language Tool. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://languagetool.org/insights/post/grammar-dangling-modifiers/.

3 Nicolas, Alvin. “What is a Dangling Modifier and How to Fix it?” August 17, 2021. Research Prospect. https://www.researchprospect.com/what-is-a-dangling-modifier-and-how-to-fix-it/.