Writing Glitch #346

Today’s second glitch:


Don’t dangle your participles — it’s rude. 🙂

I see this a lot, though, and it may be the reason why some Writing Gurus(tm) say it’s grammatically incorrect (even though it isn’t) to begin a sentence with an –ing word. (It’s easier for them to say, “Never do this!” than to say, “This is how to do it correctly.” Mercenary Proofreader is still somewhat annoyed that, a couple of decades ago, he had to teach his art students about grammar because their English teachers weren’t up to the task.)

The way the first sentence is written, it implies that the unusual item was bought by the several people who have been stalking and threatening you. *shakes head* I’m certain that’s not what the writer meant to say, so let’s clarify it.

After you buy an unusual item at a charity shop, numerous people begin stalking and threatening you. One day you find a secret compartment in the item which houses something you have to protect at all costs.

Compartments are in things, not on them.

You’ll also notice that I tightened the predicate (verb plus any objects, complements, or adverbial modifiers — yes, adverbial, because anything that modifies a verb is functioning as an adverb, even if you choose to be grammatically incorrect and use an adjective instead so you can pretend you’re not using adverbs), because there’s no reason to separate stalking and threatening when they have the same object: you.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #346

  1. curioushart says:

    Thanks for reminding us to watch out for dangling participles. But I still get a chuckle out of the mental pictures they inspire. So I appreciate all the danglers out there.

    Liked by 1 person

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