SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 7: Dangling and Misplaced Participles

What Is a Participle?


There are two kinds of participles:

Present participles always end in -ing (e.g., colliding, writing, swimming, eating, fighting).

Past participles often end in -ed or -en, but not always (e.g., collided, written, swum, eaten, fought).


A participle is a verb form used when the verb is a phrase with a helping verb, as in the following sentences:

Participles as Verbs or Adjectives

A participle can be used as a verb part (with a helping verb), as in He is writing his term paper or They have taken the car. It can also be used as an adjective, as in Don’t trust a smiling salesman or I like frozen treats.


Don’t confuse present participles with gerunds. They look the same, but they play very different roles. Present participles act as verb parts or adjectives (as above), but gerunds act as nouns, as in Writing is harder than it looks. (Writing is the subject of the verb is, so it is a noun and a gerund.)


Dangling and Misplaced Participial Phrases


participial phrase is a modifying phrase that includes a participle. Such a phrase always describes something, so it acts like an adjective or adverb. It is usually separated from the main part of the sentence by one or more commas.


Eating ravenouslythe vultures remained on the carcass until it was picked clean.

The runnersexhausted from the final sprintstumbled over the finish line.


If a participial phrase starts a sentence, the word it modifies must follow immediately after the comma.


The participial phrase modifies a noun. Who had studied all night? Certainly not the professor, so the modifying phrase dangles.

One way to correct a dangling participle is simply to place the correct noun next to the participial phrase:

Another way is to incorporate a subject into the participial phrase, turning it into a dependent clause:


Every participial phrase should be as close as possible to the word it modifies. If a modifier sounds as if it modifies the wrong thing, it is “misplaced” and must be moved.


Was the watch walking? Of course not, so the participial phrase is misplaced.

Were the announcements waiting for the train? Of course not.

Concept Review 7:
Dangling and Misplaced Participles

1. If a participial phrase followed by a comma begins a sentence, it must be followed by

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Give the past and present participle forms of each of the following verbs.

Identify the underlined word as a gerund or a present participle.

Circle the participle in each sentence, then write whether it is an adjective or a verb participle.

Circle the participle in each sentence, then rewrite the sentence so that the participle does not “dangle.”

14. Looking at your essay, it seems to me that you need to be more specific.

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15. Turning the corner, the stadium came into our view.

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16. Although exhausted after the night’s work, Martha’s creative instincts compelled her to keep writing.

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17. Without waiting for an answer, David’s eagerness got the better of him, and he left in a flash.

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18. Thinking her friends were right behind her, it was frightening for Alison to discover that they were gone.

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Worksheet 7:
Dangling and Misplaced Participles

Circle the participles in the following sentences, then rewrite the sentences, if necessary, to correct any “dangling” participles.

1. Although angered by the irrationality of his opponent, Senator Sanchez’s plan was to address each point calmly.

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2. Watching from the bridge, the fireworks bloomed spectacularly over the water.

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3. Without admitting her transgression, the club found it hard to forgive Megan.

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4. Although mildly discolored by the harsh sunlight, the sofa has retained much of its original beauty.

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5. Exhausted from the day’s climbing, the looming storm forced the hikers to pitch an early camp.

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6. Having studied for hours, it was very disappointing that I did so poorly on the exam.

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7. Without being aware of it, termites can infest your home if you don’t take the proper precautions.

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8. Before working at the bank, no one thought I could hold such a responsible position.

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9. Lacking any real sailing skills, David’s concern was mainly with keeping the ship afloat.

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10. Not wanting to be fooled again, she had her husband followed by a private investigator.

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Answer Key 7:
Dangling and Misplaced Participles

Concept Review 7

1. the noun phrase that it modifies

2. past participle pushed, present participle pushing

3. past participle run (not ran), present participle running

4. past participle taken (not took), present participle taking

5. gerund (It’s the object of the verb loved.)

6. present participle (The verb is would be working.)

7. gerund (It’s the subject of the verb was.)

8. participle: falling, verb participle

9. participle: falling, adjective

10. participles: tarnished and chipped, adjectives

11. participle: chipped, verb participle

12. participle: damaging, adjective

13. participle: run, verb participle

14. participle: looking. It seems to me, as I look at your essay, that you need to be more specific.

15. participle: turning. As we turned the corner, the stadium came into view.

16. participle: exhausted. Although Martha was exhausted after the night’s work, her creative instincts compelled her to keep writing.

17. David’s eagerness got the better of him, and without waiting for an answer, he left in a flash.

18. Thinking her friends were right behind her, Alison was frightened to discover that they were gone.


Worksheet 7

Each revised sentence below represents only one possible revision to correct the dangling participle. We have chosen what seems to be the clearest and most concise of the possibilities.

1. participle: angered. Although angered by the irrationality of his opponent, Senator Sanchez planned to address each point calmly.

2. participle: watching. As we watched from the bridge, the fireworks bloomed spectacularly over the water.

3. participle: admitting. Because Megan would not admit her transgression, the club found it hard to forgive her.

4. participle: discolored. Although mildly discolored by the harsh sunlight, the sofa has retained much of its original beauty. (Correct)

5. participle: exhausted. The looming storm forced the hikers, exhausted from the day’s climbing, to pitch an early camp.

6. participle: having. Having studied for hours, I was very disappointed to do so poorly on the exam.

7. participle: being. Without your being aware of it, termites can infest your home if you don’t take the proper precautions.

8. participle: working. Before I started working at the bank, no one thought I could hold such a responsible position.

9. participle: lacking. Lacking any real sailing skills,David was mainly concerned with keeping the ship afloat.

10. participle: wanting. Not wanting to be fooled again, she had her husband followed by a private investigator. (Correct)