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5 Cases of Dangling Modifiers
1. Despite being reluctant to start a film career, Alan Rickman’s initial foray into cinema found him nearly stealing Die Hard away from Bruce Willis and cementing his status as a master of memorable bad guys.
This sentence suggests that Alan Rickman’s movie debut was reluctant to begin a career in film. The modifying phrase must refer specifically to the person, not to a reference to something about the person, to repair this illogical error; simply insert his name, change the adjective reluctant to the noun reluctance, and, in the subject of the sentence, change his name to a pronoun: “Despite Alan Rickman’s reluctance about starting a film career, his initial foray into cinema found him nearly stealing Die Hard away from Bruce Willis and cementing his status as a master of memorable bad guys.”
2. Stopped up on blocks, I can see the boat from keel to top deck.
Writers (or their editors) can often fix dangling modifiers—here, the writer describes herself, not the boat, as being stopped up on blocks—by starting the sentence with a subject and inserting the modifier as a parenthetical in the middle of the sentence: “I can see the boat, stopped up on blocks, from keel to top deck.”
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