Dangling modifiers are guaranteed to show up on both the SAT and ACT. You can reasonably expect to encounter one on every test. So what is a dangling modifier, and how do you fix it? Dangling modifiers are best explained through examples, so let’s take a look at an example.
Correct: The dog jumped over the fence after escaping from its leash.
In this sentence, the subject (the dog) appears immediately and the modification follows. We can, however, also rewrite the sentence so that the modification comes before the subject:
Correct: After escaping from its leash, the dog jumped over the fence.
Even though the dog no longer appears at the beginning of the sentence, it is still the subject. And at the beginning of the sentence, we now have a clause that describes the subject but that does not name it. If the subject does not immediately follow that description, however, the result is a dangling modifier. When taken literally, sentences that contain dangling modifiers are often completely absurd.
Dangling Modifier: After escaping from its leash, the fence was jumped over by the dog. (Implies that the fence escaped from its leash.)
Dangling Modifier: After escaping from its leash, jumping over the fence was what the dog did. (Implies that jumping escaped from its leash.)
While some of the dangling modifiers that appear on the SAT and ACT clearly sound wrong, like the sentences above, others can be much harder to catch — especially if you’re not looking out for them.
Dangling Modifier: Created by British composer Pete M. Wyer, music and nature are combined in iForest, one of the first site-specific “immersive sound experiences.”
Since dangling modifiers often start with participles (the -ING or -ED form a verb), the appearance of the word created at the beginning of the sentence is a tip-off that we are dealing with a dangling modifier.
The question we must then ask is: What did Pete M. Wyer create? Logically, iForest, not “music and nature.”
So the word iForest must come immediately after the comma. It does not matter that the meaning of the sentence is clear enough in the incorrect version. The rule is that when an introductory phrase describes the subject, that subject must immediately follow. Otherwise, the modifier is dangling.
Correct: Created by British composer Pete M. Wyer, music and nature are combined in iForest, one of the first site-specific “immersive sound experiences.”
It is important that you be able to identify subjects in sentences like these because typically only one answer choice will correctly place the subject after the introductory phrase. If you can spot the subject, you can jump straight to the answer.