ACT English : Dangling Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #1691 : Gmat Verbal

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Running down the hill, the underbrush the boy fell into was thorny. 

Possible Answers:

Running down the hill, the thorny underbrush the boy fell into.

Running down the hill, fell into the thorny underbrush the boy.

Running down the hill, the boy fell into the underbrush that was thorny.

Running down the hill, fell into the underbrush that was thorny the boy.

Running down the hill, the boy fell into the thorny underbrush.

Correct answer:

Running down the hill, the boy fell into the thorny underbrush.

Explanation:

The sentence is written in such a way that "the underbrush" was "running down the hill," and this confusion needs to be clarified. To do this, the sentence needs to be rearranged so that the introductory participial phrase, "Running down the hill," is as close as possible to the noun that it describes, "the boy." Two answer choices rearrange the sentence in this way: "Running down the hill, the boy fell into the thorny underbrush" and "Running down the hill, the boy fell into the underbrush that was thorny." The first of these options is the best because saying "the underbrush that was thorny" instead of "the thorny underbrush" is redundant.

Example Question #31 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Choose the best answer from the options given.

Skeptical that prophets could actually tell the future, Ancient Greece was where droves of philosophers began to value reason over revealed truths.

Possible Answers:

droves of philosophers in Ancient Greece began to value reason over revealed truths.

the valuing of reason over revealed truths was begun by droves of philosophers in Ancient Greece.

valuing of reason over revealed truths by philosophers in Ancient Greece was begun.

it was droves of philosophers that began to value reason over revealed truths.

Ancient Greece was where droves of philosophers began to value reason over revealed truths.

Correct answer:

droves of philosophers in Ancient Greece began to value reason over revealed truths.

Explanation:

The modifying phrase beginning the sentence must also modify the subject of the main clause. Ancient Greece cannot be skeptical. The only logical subject is philosophers.

Example Question #41 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Unaware of any problems ahead, the path was followed for miles by the convoy.

Possible Answers:

Unaware of any problems ahead, the path followed by the convoy for miles.

Unaware of any problems ahead, the path was following for miles by the convoy.

Unaware of any problems ahead, the convoy followed the path for miles.

Unaware of any problems ahead, the convoy following the path for miles.

Unaware of any problems ahead, the path was followed for miles by the convoy.

Correct answer:

Unaware of any problems ahead, the convoy followed the path for miles.

Explanation:

The sentence as written contains a dangling modifier, as it is constructed in a manner that makes it seem as if "the path" is "unaware of" "any problems ahead." To correct this, the sentence's word order needs to be reversed so that the introductory phrase is immediately followed by the noun it describes—"the convoy," not "the path." "Unaware of any problems ahead, the convoy followed the path for miles" is the only answer choice that corrects this error. "Unaware of any problems ahead, the convoy following the path for miles" is incorrect because "following" is acting as a participle (that is, like an adjective describing "convoy"), and so the sentence does not contain a predicate and is thus a fragment.

Example Question #251 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Walking into the room, the conference table dominated the interviewee's vision.

Possible Answers:

the conference table dominated the interviewee's vision.

the conference table that had dominated the interviewee's vision.

the conference table dominated an interviewee's vision.

the conference table dominating the interviewee's vision.

the interviewee's vision was dominated by the conference table.

Correct answer:

the interviewee's vision was dominated by the conference table.

Explanation:

In the sentence, the word "walking" is a dangling modifier, as it is confusing which noun is modified by the action of "walking into the room." The sentence is written in a way that makes it the conference table, and the word order needs to be moved around to clear this up; therefore, the correct answer choice is "the interviewee's vision was dominated by the conference table."

Example Question #51 : Modifier Placement Errors

Seething with anger, the door slammed behind me.

Possible Answers:

Seething with anger, I slammed the door behind me.

Seething with anger, the door from behind me was slammed.

Seething with anger, the door slammed behind me.

Anger full of seething, the door slammed behind me.

Seething with anger, the door was slammed behind me.

Correct answer:

Seething with anger, I slammed the door behind me.

Explanation:

Here, “seething with anger” needs to describe who comes right after the comma. Thus, “Seething with anger, I slammed the door behind me” is the only answer choice that makes sense.

Example Question #41 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Although she was worried about bankruptcy, Masha's concern was more about the possibility of losing her home.

Possible Answers:

Masha was more concerned about the possibility of losing her home.

Masha was more concerned towards her home and losing it.

Masha's concern was more about the possibility of losing her home.

it was the possibility of losing her home that gave Masha concern.

the possibility of losing her home gave Masha more concern.

Correct answer:

Masha was more concerned about the possibility of losing her home.

Explanation:

It is illogical to state that a "concern" is "worried." The only logical subject of this participle is "Masha."

Example Question #33 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Like his other historical plays, Shakespeare dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power in the play King John.

Possible Answers:

Like his other historical plays, Shakespeare dramatized themes of corruption, betrayal, and power in the play King John.

Like his other historical plays, themes of corruption, betrayal, and power are dramatized by Shakespeare in the play King John.

Like Shakespeare's other historical plays, King John dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power.

Like his other historical plays, Shakespeare dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power in the play King John.

Like his other historical plays, in the play King John, Shakespeare dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power.

Correct answer:

Like Shakespeare's other historical plays, King John dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power.

Explanation:

This sentence contains a faulty comparison. All of the answer choices except "Like Shakespeare's other historical plays, King John dramatizes themes of corruption, betrayal, and power" make it sound as though either Shakespeare or the themes are like the other historical plays.

Example Question #41 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Walking out of the house, the cold immediately affected the little boy.

Possible Answers:

Walking out of the house so the cold immediately affected the little boy.

Walked out of the house, the cold immediately affected the little boy.

The cold immediately affected the little boy walking out of the house.

Walking out of the house, the cold immediately affecting the little boy.

Walking out of the house, the cold immediately affected the little boy.

Correct answer:

The cold immediately affected the little boy walking out of the house.

Explanation:

The sentence is written with a dangling modifier, making it appear like "the cold" was "walking out of the house." The sentence needs to be rearranged to make it clear that "the little boy" was the one doing the walking. The only answer choice that fully takes care of this confusion is "The cold immediately affected the little boy walking out of the house."

Example Question #41 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

After eating too much food, nausea overwhelmed Francis.

Possible Answers:

food, Francis was overwhlemed with nausea.

food, nausea overwhelmed Francis.

food, Francis having been overwhelmed with nausea.

food; nausea overwhelmed Francis.

food: naseau overwhelmed Francis.

Correct answer:

food, Francis was overwhlemed with nausea.

Explanation:

Here, the modifying phrase is misplaced: it is Francis, not the nausea, that ate too much food. Choose the answer which places the subject close to the modifier and also makes grammatical sense.

Example Question #42 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Playing the piano for over an hour, Tyler’s soreness prevented him from performing his best.

Possible Answers:

Having played the piano for over an hour, Tyler’s soreness prevented him from performing well.

Playing the piano for over an hour, Tyler’s soreness prevented him from performing well.

Having played the piano for over an hour, Tyler was unable to perform well because of his soreness.

Having played the piano for over an hour, Tyler’s performing well was prevented by soreness.

Playing the piano for over an hour, Tyler was unable to perform well because of his soreness.

Correct answer:

Having played the piano for over an hour, Tyler was unable to perform well because of his soreness.

Explanation:

There are two problems with the initial sentence. First, playing modifies Tyler, not his soreness. Second, the participle is in the wrong form. It should be in the perfect form, having played. Only past action could have caused his current soreness.

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