NVDT #70 – To Ing or not to Ing

Is your modifier dangling?

It’s no secret I dislike a sentence that starts with an -ing verb, or writing a sentence that ‘feels’ inside out, or backwards. “While” and words of that sort can ruin you, too. “While eating lunch a bird pooped on the hotdog I was holding” Yes, that’s a bad sentence, but I see them all the time. And that’s exactly why I hate them because your brain can reform that into making sense. Which is way too much work and once you get in the groove of accepting them they are almost impossible to self edit. A forest for the trees issue.

I have been told it’s not illegal to start with an -ing phrase as they mix up your sentence structure. No thanks. Unless it’s a tone setter or dialogue. Otherwise I’d rather write smash-mouth direct because -ing, like adverbs and mold, go from a little green spot to an entire fuzzy piece of cheese in an instant.

But for those of you so inclined – Searching my hard drive, I found a grammar exercise yesterday . Or, Yesterday I discovered a grammar exercise on my hard drive. (yes!) Or, While exploring my hard drive yesterday, I discovered a grammar exercise. See why I’m sentence retentive? See why I didn’t use “came across” in the first or third examples? Here ya go, modifier fans. A Dangling Mod worksheet.

1.

  1. While walking in the yard yesterday evening, we were thrilled to see a pair of Canada geese on the lake behind the house.
  1. While walking in the yard yesterday evening, a pair of Canada geese on the lake behind the house gave us a thrill.

2.

  1. Being late in the afternoon, that class does not always get my full attention as I am usually quite drowsy.
  1. Being late in the afternoon, I do not always give that class my full attention as I am usually quite drowsy.

3.

  1. Heavily damaged in the fall on the mountain, Mark’s bike was taken directly to the repair shop.
  1. Heavily damaged in the fall on the mountain, Mark sent his bike to the repair shop.

4.

  1. Standing on the fifteenth floor balcony, I thought that the whole ocean seemed to spread out before me.
  1. Standing on the fifteenth floor balcony, the whole ocean seemed to spread out before me.

5. 

  1. To find the file, the entire file cabinet will probably need to be searched.
  1. To find the file, I will need to search the entire file cabinet.

6. 

  1. Seeing it from a distance, that towering thunderhead was a beautiful sight.
  1. Seen from a distance that towering thunderhead was a beautiful sight.

7. 

  1. Seeing Pat Ryan at the reunion, for an embarrassing moment I could not remember her name.
  1. Seeing Pat Ryan at the reunion, I could not remember her name for an embarrassing moment.

Published by

Phil Huston

https://philh52.wordpress.com/

12 thoughts on “NVDT #70 – To Ing or not to Ing”

  1. I think people don’t notice that the -ing clause is modifying something other than they think it is, as in examples 1.b, 2.b, 3.b, and 4.b. For example: in 4.b, it implies the ocean was standing on the 15th floor balcony. Examples 5-7, figure out “who’s kicking who” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While attempting to strangle my dangle, Mr. Huston, cajolingly, batted my addiction about the room. Failing to cure me, he stormed off, grumbling about how EL should have been medicine enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be your addiction about the room? Which room? I’ve never been overly ( there’s your adverb ) fond of the “breakfast nook” dining area. Childhood trauma? Uncomfortable seating? On Saturdays my literate father watched Porter effing Waggoner thru the serving window? Well, that had something to do with Dolly’s “qualifications”. But still…

      Liked by 1 person

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