Are danglers wrong?

The answer is: not really.

These two posts at Language Log explain:

Danglers aren’t grammatically wrong the way a sentence like “I bacon the ate” (as opposed to “I ate the bacon“) is wrong. Lots of native speakers of English use danglers, as do lots of native writers of English.

That said, danglers can be bad writing, which is reason enough to know what they are and how to avoid them.

Danglers aren’t always bad writing. Unfortunately, I lack the linguistic expertise to explain the difference between a good dangler and a bad one, so there the matter stands. For the moment.

[UPDATE 1/26/2016: explanation coming shortly]

I post danglers on English 109 because I like them; they tend to jump off the page at me (most of the time).

I also post them because I’m fairly certain that looking for the dangler in a sentence helps students see syntax. “Seeing” the syntax of a sentence isn’t easy if you were never taught formal grammar or sentence diagramming.

I’m in that category myself. Before teaching English 109, I had learned most of what little I knew about grammar in Spanish class. I wrote grammatically, but I wrote “by ear.”

When I began to learn the formal categories of grammar and linguistics, I was thrilled to finally find out what the sentences I had been writing for all these years were actually made of.

*Sentence fragment intentional.

Pop quiz: Winston Churchill uses passive voice

The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the guilty goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweakened by their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and their devotion.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. (Prolonged cheers.)

Winston Churchill 1940

Active voice: People owed gratitude. (many owed so much…)
Passive voice: Gratitude was owed by people. (so much was owed…)

Revised sentence, using active voice:

Never in the field of human conflict did so many owe so much to so few.

Question: Why did Churchill choose the passive voice in this sentence?