Dangling Modifier

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fargh

New Member
Persian - Iran
Hi,
In the online writing lab of Purdue University, there is an example about a dangling modifier (there is a similar example on Toronto University website too):

"To improve his results, the experiment was done again."

They said that "the experiment" cannot improve its results, so they corrected it in this way:
"He improved his results by doing the experiment again."

I have two questions:
1- I think there should not be dangling because "to improve" is infinitive and infinitive does not have a subject. So why there is a dangling modifier?

2- How one can correct the first sentence without changing it into the active voice?

I appreciate if you can provide any help.

Thanks
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Dangling modifiers are often fine and don't need to be changed. They're quite grammatical; sometimes they can suggest the wrong sense; sometimes they can be ridiculous (but usually these are made-up examples); and often there is no real ambiguity, even if there is a theoretical possibility of it. I don't think you should change that one.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I'm not sure why you want to avoid the active voice, but the most elegant solution is "To improve his results, he repeated the experiment." That being said, there are worse sins than "To improve his results, the experiment was done again."
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings all round.

    Because in scientific writing it is quite common to use passive voice.
    Quite right. This was drummed into me as a discipline in Chemistry and Physics when I was a teenager.

    Dangling modifiers are often fine and don't need to be changed.
    Sorry, but these danglers are almost always evidence of slack and untidy thought, and should be everywhere and -when avoided.

    Σ
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It seems to me that if you're going to say "to improve his results" then you're already talking about the experimenter and you might as well make the following verb active. Alternatively, you can say "to improve the results, the experiment was done again," which should slip by with few objections.
     
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