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” is grammatically wrong. Lots of native speakers of English use danglers, as do lots of native writers. 

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

Of course, danglers aren’t always bad writing, either. Some danglers sound a lot better than others. 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 time being. *

I post danglers on English 109 because I like finding them; they tend to jump off the page at me. 

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. 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 “by ear.”

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

Find the dangler

* Sentence fragment intentional.

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