Participles are adjectives formed from a verb ending in -ing or -ed. Sentences with dangling participles omit the subject of the sentence, which leaves the participle without a word to modify. Dangling participles are also referred to as dangling modifiers, as they provide a modifier for a word that is missing.
Identifying Dangling Participles
In the sentence "Working until the last minute, he met the deadline," the word "working" is the start of a participle phrase that describes "he." Eliminating the subject "he" is an error that creates a dangling participle. For example, in the sentence "Working until the last minute, the deadline was met," the participial phrase "working until the last minute" dangles. In this situation, the deadline is not working, which leaves the participle "working" without a noun to modify.
In the sentence "Tired from studying all night, she struggled on the math test," the phrase beginning with the participle "tired" correctly modifies the subject "she." On the other hand, the sentence "Tired from studying all night, the math test was hard" contains a modifier without a subject. Without the word "she," the participle dangles because "tired" does not describe the "math test."
Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.