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Grammar Repair Shop: Dangling modifiers

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in Workplace Communication

Problem: A case of "dangling modifier": when the subject of your sentence doesn't agree with the description that precedes it.


Result: Confusion (and it makes you look foolish).

Example: After studying long and hard for the certification exam, it wasn't that difficult.

What's wrong: "It" did not do the studying; "I" did.

Correct: After studying long and hard for the certification exam, I found that it wasn't that difficult.

Lesson: Usually, placing the subject just after the modifying phrase solves the problem.

Another example:

Incorrect: Having read the instructions carefully, the photocopier was easy to figure out.

Correct: Having read the instructions carefully, I easily figured out the photocopier.

Peeved by a common error? Puzzled by perplexing grammar rules? Send us an e-mail at admineditor@nibm.net with the subject "Grammar." Or call us at (703) 905-4850.

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