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dangling participle

noun, Grammar
1.
a participle or participial phrase, often found at the beginning of a sentence, that appears from its position to modify an element of the sentence other than the one it was intended to modify, as plunging in Plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge, we saw Yosemite Falls.
Usage note
Most usage guides warn against the dangling participle and usually suggest revising any sentence that has one. The example Plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge, we saw Yosemite Falls would, by such guidelines, be recast as We saw Yosemite Falls plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge. Constructions that may technically be classified as dangling participles have, however, long been a feature of standard literary English and are today commonplace in speech and edited writing: Looking to the west, a deep river valley can be seen in the distance. Obviously, it is not the river valley that is looking to the west, but the sentence is nonetheless immediately clear and stylistically unexceptionable. Modern British writers are much less timid than their American counterparts about the use of such phrases.
Some participial constructions are never felt to be dangling or unattached. Some of these are simply independent phrases: Generally speaking, the report is true. Others have come to function as conjunctions or prepositions: Considering she has been through so much illness, she looks wonderful. Owing to the weather, the performance was canceled. Assuming congressional approval, the bill will go to the president on Friday. Despite many criticisms, dangling participles continue to appear in edited prose. Only when an unintentionally ridiculous meaning is suggested (Having finished our breakfast, the boat was loaded and launched) are dangling participles deliberately avoided. See also misplaced modifier.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for dangling participle

dangling participle

noun
1.
(grammar) a participle intended to modify a noun but having the wrong grammatical relationship to it as for example having left in the sentence Having left Europe for good, Peter's future seemed bleak indeed Also called misplaced modifier
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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