dangling participle

In grammar, a dangling participle is an adjective that is unintentionally modifying the wrong noun in a sentence. An example is: "Walking through the kitchen, the smoke alarm was going off." This sentence literally means that the smoke alarm was taking a stroll.

It's not hard to use a dangling participle inadvertently, but these pesky participles are easy to fix. When you say, "Speeding down the hallway, the door to his math class came into view," speeding is the participle (an adjective formed from the -ing form of a verb). Because it's dangling, unconnected to the person who's speeding, it sounds like it's the door that's speeding down the hallway. Instead, say, "Speeding down the hallway, he saw the door come into view."

Definitions of dangling participle
1

n a participle (usually at the beginning of a sentence) apparently modifying a word other than the word intended: e.g., `flying across the country' in `flying across the country the Rockies came into view'

Type of:
dangling modifier, misplaced modifier
a word or phrase apparently modifying an unintended word because of its placement in a sentence: e.g., `when young' in `when young, circuses appeal to all of us'

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.