ACT English : Dangling Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #71 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Adapted from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Laurie ran to meet and present them to his friends in the most cordial manner. The lawn was the reception room, and for several minutes a lively scene was enacted there. Meg was grateful to see that Miss Kate, though twenty, was dressed with a simplicity which American girls would do well to imitate, and who was much flattered by Mr. Ned's assurances that he came especially to see her. Jo understood why Laurie "primmed up his mouth" when speaking of Kate, for that young lady had a standoff-don't-touch-me air, which contrasted strongly with the free and easy demeanor of the other girls. Amy found Grace a well-mannered, merry little person, and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, they suddenly became very good friends.

Tents, lunch, and croquet utensils having been sent on beforehand, the party was soon embarked, and the two boats pushed off together, leaving Mr. Laurence waving his hat on the shore. Laurie and Jo rowed one boat, Mr. Brooke and Ned the other, while Fred Vaughn, the riotous twin, did his best to upset both by paddling about in a wherry like a disturbed water bug. Jo's funny hat deserved a vote of thanks, for it was of general utility. It broke the ice in the beginning by producing a laugh, it created quite a refreshing breeze, flapping to and fro as she rowed, and would make an excellent umbrella for the whole party, if a shower came up, she said.

Meg, in the other boat, was delightfully situated, face to face with the rowers, which both admired her and feathered their oars with uncommon skill and dexterity.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Amy found Grace a well-mannered, merry, little person. After staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, a great friendship suddenly formed.

Amy found Grace a well-mannered, merry, little person, and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, Amy suddenly found a new friend. 

Amy found Grace a well-mannered, merry, little person, and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, their friendship was suddenly formed.

Amy found Grace a well-mannered, merry, little person, and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, a friendship suddenly emerged.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The modifying phrase "after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes" is modifying the actions of both Amy and Grace. Therefore, the word that immediately follows the modifying phrase must be the subject that phrase is modifying. Only the original sentence refers to both girls in this manner by using the pronoun "they."

Example Question #325 : 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.

Caring for a pet, responsibility is something children can learn.

Possible Answers:

Caring for a pet responsibility is something children can learn.

Caring for a pet, responsibility is something children can learn.

Responsibility is something children can learn by caring for a pet.

Caring for a pet, responsibility is learned by children.

Caring for a pet, responsibility is something children learn.

Correct answer:

Responsibility is something children can learn by caring for a pet.

Explanation:

With the sentence phrased the way it is, the thing that is "caring for a pet" appears to be "responsibility." This dangling modifier needs to be changed to make it clear that "children" are "caring for a pet." The correct answer choice is "Responsibility is something children can learn by caring for a pet."

Example Question #71 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Waiting for her friend, the plaza was a nice spot for Ariel to sit on a bench and rest her feet.

Possible Answers:

Waiting for her friend, Ariel found a nice spot in the plaza to sit on a bench and rest her feet.

Waiting for her friend, a nice spot for Ariel to sit on a bench and rest her feet was the plaza

NO CHANGE.

Waiting for her friend, the plaza was where Ariel sat on a bench and rested her feet.

Waiting for her friend, the plaza was a nice spot where Ariel could sit on a bench and rest her feet.

Correct answer:

Waiting for her friend, Ariel found a nice spot in the plaza to sit on a bench and rest her feet.

Explanation:

"Waiting for her friend" modifies "Ariel," so "Ariel" must be the subject of the following clause. As written, "the plaza" is the subject of the clause and the sentence reads as though the plaza was waiting for her friend, which makes no sense. When an introductory clause has a subject that does not match the subject of the main verb this creates what is called a dangling modifier.

Example Question #73 : Dangling Modifier Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

As someone who takes great pride in farming, water is one of the most important resources.

Possible Answers:

water has to be considered as one of the most important resources. 

water was one of the most important resources. 

NO CHANGE

I believe water is one of the most important resources. 

water will be one of the most valuable resources. 

Correct answer:

I believe water is one of the most important resources. 

Explanation:

This question requires the reader to fix the dangling modifier "As someone who takes great pride in farming." This phrase is modifying the farmer, therefore the first person perspective of the farmer ("I") must follow the phrase immediately afterwards. Otherwise, the sentence could be misunderstood in a way that implies that the water takes great pride in farming. 

Example Question #74 : Dangling Modifier Errors

After she read the magazine article, the thought of life on Mars consumed Janet's thoughts all day. 

Choose the best alternative to the sentence above. If the sentence is correct as is, choose NO CHANGE.

Possible Answers:

After reading the magazine article, the thought of life on Mars consumed Janet's thoughts all day. 

NO CHANGE

After reading the magazine article, life on Mars consumed the thoughts of Janet all day.

After she read the magazine article, life on Mars consumed the thoughts of Janet all day.

After she read the magazine article, Janet was consumed by thoughts of life on Mars all day.

Correct answer:

After she read the magazine article, Janet was consumed by thoughts of life on Mars all day.

Explanation:

The original sentence contains a dangling modifier that needs to be addressed. The phrase "after she read the magazine article" is referring to Janet, therefore "Janet" should immediately follow this phrase.

Example Question #91 : Modifier Placement Errors

One time a mystery, scientists now believe they understand the reason behind the creation of the ancient Stonehenge.

Choose the best alternative to the sentence above. If the sentence is correct as is, choose NO CHANGE.

Possible Answers:

One time a mystery, the reasons behind the creation of the Stonehenge are now understood by scientists.

One time a mystery, scientists now believe they understand the reasons behind the creation of the ancient Stonehenge.

NO CHANGE

One time a mystery, the Stonehenge and its creation is now understood by scientific reasoning.

One time a mystery, the creation of the Stonehenge has unveiled its reasons to scientists.

Correct answer:

One time a mystery, the reasons behind the creation of the Stonehenge are now understood by scientists.

Explanation:

This question asks the reader to choose the best alternative to correct the dangling modifier, which is a phrase that isn't attached to the rest of the sentence in a clear manner. Here, the phrase "one time a mystery" modifies the word "reasons." Therefore "reasons" must follow its modifier immediately. The only option choice that does this is "One time a mystery, the reasons behind the creation of the Stonehenge are now understood by scientists."

Example Question #72 : Dangling Modifier Errors

In order to get better results, the experiment was repeated.

Choose the best alternative to the sentence above. If the sentence is correct as is, choose NO CHANGE.

Possible Answers:

In order to get better results, the experiment was repeated by the scientist.

In order to achieve better results, repetition of the experiment by the scientist is recommended.

In order to get better results, the scientist repeated the experiment.

NO CHANGE

In order to achieve better results, the experiment was repeated.

Correct answer:

In order to get better results, the scientist repeated the experiment.

Explanation:

This original sentence contains a dangling modifier that needs to be corrected. The introductory clause "In order to achieve better results" is modifying the scientist's behavior, therefore the word "scientist" must immediately follow its modifier.

Example Question #93 : Modifier Placement Errors

While watching his favorite football team on TV, the commercial suddenly interrupted Ashton's focus.

Choose the best alternative to the sentence above. If the sentence is correct as is, choose NO CHANGE. 

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

While watching his favorite football team on TV, a commercial suddenly interrupted the focus of Ashton.

While watching his favorite football team on TV, suddenly a commercial interrupted Ashton's focus.

While watching his favorite football team on TV, Ashton's focus was suddenly interrupted by a commercial.

While watching his favorite football team on TV, Ashton had his focus suddenly interrupted by a commercial.

Correct answer:

While watching his favorite football team on TV, Ashton had his focus suddenly interrupted by a commercial.

Explanation:

This question requires the reader to correct the dangling modifier. The phrase "While watching his favorite football team on TV" is modifying Ashton. Therefore "Ashton" must follow this phrase immediately. One answer is a bit deceiving: "While watching his favorite football team on TV, Ashton's focus was suddenly interrupted by a commercial." Though the name Ashton immediately follows the modifier, it's being used as a possessive modifier of the noun "focus," so technically "focus" still immediately follows this phrase. 

Example Question #94 : Modifier Placement Errors

When picking a puppy, the best choice is a dog with a medium level of energy.

Choose the best alternative to the sentence above. If the sentence is correct as is, choose NO CHANGE.

Possible Answers:

When picking a puppy, a dog with a medium level of energy is the best choice.

When picking a puppy, the energy level of the dog is best when it's medium.

When picking a puppy, a medium level of energy is the best choice for a dog.

When picking a puppy, you should choose a dog with a medium level of energy.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

When picking a puppy, you should choose a dog with a medium level of energy.

Explanation:

This question requires the reader to correct the dangling modifier. The phrase "When picking a puppy" is referring to someone who performs this action. Therefore we need a name or pronoun that refers to a person that will immediately follow this phrase. Every other choice has the wrong noun immediately following the modifying phrase. 

Example Question #95 : Modifier Placement Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, his employer was delighted to have John start working right away.

Possible Answers:

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, John and his employer were delighted to start working right away.

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, John's employer was delighted to have John start working right away.

NO CHANGE

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, John's employer was delighted to start working right away for John.

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, John was delighted to start working right away.

Correct answer:

Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field, John was delighted to start working right away.

Explanation:

The dangling modifier "Overjoyed to have finally found a position in his field" describes the noun John and should therefore be followed by this noun. Amodifier should begin a sentence, is set off by a comma, and is followed by the noun(s) to which the modifier refers. If the subject of the main clause does not match up with the subject of the introductory clause that modifier is left hanging, which is fun for neither people or modifiers!

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