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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Grammar." Or call us at (703) 905-4850.
- 14 Tips on Business Etiquette No matches