Eliminating dangling participles from your writing is key for getting your intended meaning across to your reader. Here are some dangling participle examples.
While understanding a dangling participle can feel complicated, the concept is pretty simple: it includes a modifier in a sentence that doesn’t seem to modify anything specific. So if you’re feeling confused, don’t worry–this concept can be tough to grasp before you have concrete examples of what a dangling participle does and doesn’t look like.
Here, we’ll explore some examples of dangling participles, helping you learn more about this literary fumble and understand how to avoid using this mistake in your writing.
Dangling Participle Examples
1. Driving like a crazy person, the stray cat was smashed on the highway.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: Taken literally, this sentence makes it sound like the stray cat was the one driving the car, not the person who caused the accident.
- How to fix it: Erica was driving like a crazy person, and she smashed a stray cat on the highway.
2. Taking a look at the backyard, weeds were everywhere.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: Since the true subject of the sentence is missing, it seems like the weeds are somehow taking a look around the backyard and noticing themselves.
- How to fix it: Linda took a look around the backyard and noticed that there were weeds everywhere.
3. Missing the school bus, the dust kicked up everywhere as the vehicle faded into the distance.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: Any reader can tell that the dust is not the one who missed the school bus, but since the sentence is missing its subject, it reads awkwardly.
- How to fix it: After missing the school bus, Amanda watched the dust kick up as the vehicle faded into the distance.
4. Making a mess on the kitchen floor, the spilled mayonnaise let off an eggy smell.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: While the spilled mayonnaise may indeed have been a mess on the kitchen floor, it’s not living, so it’s not capable of making the mess on its own.
- How to fix it: After Jonathan spilled the mayonnaise on the floor, there was a mess that had an eggy smell.
5. Walking out of the grocery store, the grapes scattered all over the sidewalk.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: It’s evident that the grapes didn’t grow legs and miraculously walk out of the grocery store, but still, the way the sentence reads is confusing since there is no subject to go with the “walking” verb.
- How to fix it: As Martina walked out of the grocery store, her grocery bag broke, and grapes were spilled all over the sidewalk.
6. Walking down the stairs, the apple pie let off a delicious scent.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: It’s silly to imagine a pie having legs and walking down the stairs, letting off a delicious scent as it made its way to the main floor of the house. Also, like the previous example regarding the grapes, this sentence reads awkwardly because there is no subject to go with the “walking” verb.
- How to fix it: Timmy noticed the delicious scent of an apple pie baking as he walked down the stairs.
7. Pushing the cart into Wal-Mart, the greeter said hello.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: This one is a bit more tricky than the others we’ve looked at so far. It’s unlikely that the greeter at the store door would also be the one who is saying hello. More likely, a customer pushing the cart into the store is receiving a greeting from the greeter.
- How to fix it: As I pushed the cart into Wal-Mart, the greeter said hello to me.
8. Rounding the bases, the umpire screamed “Safe!”
- Why it’s a dangling participle: This one is slightly more complicated than the previous examples. The umpire is most likely standing at the baseball diamond’s home plate, calling pitches and determining whether the players crossing the home plate made it in time. It’s unlikely that the umpire is the one rounding the bases during the game.
- How to fix it: As the Phillies player rounded the bases after his hit, the umpire screamed “Safe!” as the other Phillies player crossed home plate.
9. The teacher handed Halloween treats to the children in bags.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: It’s doubtful that the children in the classroom are being stored in bags–and it’s clear that the author of this sentence meant that the teacher was placing the treats in the children’s Halloween bags. This dangling participle example includes all the necessary parts of a solid sentence, but how the sentence is structured makes it confusing and awkward to read.
- How to fix it: The teacher placed Halloween treats in each child’s Halloween bag.
10. Waiting for the soda to come out, the vending machine made noises that made it sound like it wasn’t working correctly.
- Why it’s a dangling participle: A soda machine is an inanimate object, so there’s no way it was waiting for anything. So while it may have been making sounds that indicated it was not working correctly, it wasn’t the one standing in front of it, waiting for a soda.
- How to fix it: While Todd was waiting for the vending machine to dispense his soda, he noticed the machine was making strange noises and wondered whether it was working correctly.
If you still need help, our guide to grammar and syntax explains more.
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