Everything you wanted to know about danglers but were too afraid to ask

Is it ever ok to dangle your participle in public?

Danglers
(Image credit: (iStock))

There's been a little kerfuffle lately over danglers. Steven Pinker, who is a noted linguist, said in an article in The Guardian that some dangling modifiers are OK to use — in fact, according to him, they're not even ungrammatical.

What are dangling modifiers, or "danglers" for short, you ask? In a nutshell, a dangler is a little phrase — not a complete sentence — that is used at the start of a sentence to describe something, but that something is not the subject doing the main action of the sentence. Since dangling modifiers don't attach to what comes right after them, they "dangle." The result is that they can be read as describing the subject of the sentence when they actually don't, which can be pretty funny, and we must not be unintentionally funny when we are writing.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us