modifying danglers

Allan Metcalf AAllan at AOL.COM
Thu May 6 17:43:06 UTC 1999

As the ever-useful _Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage_ informs
us, many of the best-known egregious examples of dangling modifiers are
(likely) factitious. In actual usage, dm's generally pass by untroubled and
untroubling. You can find them in even the best writing, which makes looking
for them a sport; but which also reinforces the notion that English teaching
is a "gotcha" matter. Just yesterday in a freshman composition class I was
dealing with students who didn't know much about writing, but did know you
should never start a sentence with "And" or "Because." These people grow up
to be copyediting "which" hunters.

It would be nice to think that the usage we taught was what good writers
actually use.

- Allan Metcalf

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