It's so easy to say or write things that are downright weird, simply because of poor wording. Among the most common causes of unclear and sometimes outrageously funny statements are dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and pronouns with unclear antecedents. As a teacher of language I correct errors to help my students improve their speaking and writing. I hope I don't seem to them to be a grammar Nazi. It's a fine line I have to walk! The goal is clear communication, not stifled communication. Today's iv is a list of examples of poor writing and speaking that I've accumulated, but not from my students.
Warning: Read this only if you are in a place where you're free to LOL.
Riding along on my bicycle, a dog knocked me over.
Mrs. Shirley Baxter, who went deer hunting with her husband, is very proud that she was able to shoot a fine buck as well as her husband.
Sizzling in the pan, my wife has some okra.
If properly secured, you shouldn't be able to remove the lid.
I saw the man before he died two or three times.
The body was found in an alley by a passer-by with a bullet in his head.
The suspect is about 30 years old, white, 5' 10", with wavy hair weighing about 150 pounds.
Flitting from flower to flower, the football player watched the butterfly.
We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.
The robber ran from the policeman still holding the money in his hands.
Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.
Walking down the street, the library came into view.
We have several very old dresses from a grandmother in beautiful condition.
Having finished our breakfast, the car was loaded for our departure.
A department store ad: "Mixing Bowl Set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating."
Another ad: "We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $10.00."
Flying low, the Smoky Mountains are stunning.
Hunting can also be dangerous, as in the case of pygmies hunting elephants armed only with spears.
One evening on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw announced, "Just like men, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S."
At the age of eight, my family drove to California.
Mrs. Smith gave out cookies to each child wrapped in Saran Wrap.
Overheard: "This summer I almost wore a dress every day."
Newspaper Blurb: "A purple lady's bicycle was missing from Serendipity Lane recently."
Walking home from school yesterday, a tree almost fell on my friend.
After finishing my homework, my dog ate it.
Being flat, Betsy changed the tire.
After being whipped fiercely, the cook boiled the eggs.
Swimming upstream to spawn, John watched the salmon.
Organ donations from the living reached a record high last year, outnumbering donors who are dead for the first time.
When young, amusement parks are especially appealing.
Plunging hundreds of feet below, we saw the Grand Canyon.
Having left home for good, Tom's future looked bleak.
The dog was hungry and made the mistake of nipping a 2-year-old that was trying to force feed it in his ear.
Buzzing in the garden I heard a bee.
We spent most of our time sitting on the back porch watching the cows playing Scrabble and reading.
The family lawyer will read the will tomorrow at the residence of Mr. Hannon, who died June 19 to accommodate his relatives.
If you would like to test your skills at catching dangling participles, you can go to this online tutorial. The left sidebar on that site has links to other similar online tutorials.
I'm hoping the comments to this post will demonstrate the creative writing abilities of many of my readers. Now back to grading the first set of compositions from my MLF101 students....
"Forbid, Lord, that any of those to whom I minister should be so foolish as to take my word as though it were Thine; or so daring as to set aside Thy word as though it were mine." - Jim Elliot
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
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