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Misrelated Clauses

Improving Placement and Reference

heart in the trash

 

 

 

 

Participle Clauses  "Dangling Modifiers"

UNCLEARLY RELATED

When a participle clause is placed before a clause, the understood subject of the participle clause should be the same as the subject of the main clause. An error commonly occurs with a main-clause subject it or there.

PARTICIPLE CLAUSE DIFFERENT SUBJECT

Being a guy, 

it is hard for him to understand her point of view.

Having heard this before,

her patience was wearing thin.

Being very rational,

speaking frankly was a very important to him.

Wounding like an arrow,

he sometimes hated to hear the truth. 

Mentioned as constructive criticism,

there were no hard feelings.  

CLEARLY RELATED

The understood subject of both the main clause (independent) and the participle clause (dependent) should be the same person(s) or thing(s).  Rewording the main clause is often the easiest solution.

PARTICIPLE CLAUSE SHARED SUBJECT

Being a guy,

he has a hard time understanding her point of view.

Having heard this before,

she was becoming less patient. (impatient)

Being very rational,

he felt that speaking frankly was very important.

Wounding like an arrow,

the truth was sometimes difficult to bear.

Mentioned as constructive criticism,

the comment hurt her feelings.

 

guy – a person of male gender (informal)
her patience was wearing thin – she was becoming less patient.
rational – feelings based on reason rather than emotion
frankly
– honestly, directly
constructive criticism – pointing out the negatives in order to focus on improvement
wound – to seriously injure, cause harm

A participle clause, also called a nonfinite clause, a reduced clause, a gerund clause, or a gerund-participle clause, is one in which the subject is usually omitted and the verb is reduced to a gerund-participle form (-ing)  He is a guy.  being a guy, his being a guy. (See Grammar Notes below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participle Clause

Placement

 

 

 

Mid-Clause and End-Clause Placement

MID–SENTENCE COMMENT

commasNormally, a participle clause is placed directly after the word it modifies. Commas set off the comment from the rest of the clause. See Comma-comments.

NOUN PARTICIPLE CL.  

It is hard for him,

being a guy,

to understand her point of view.

 

being more rational,

 

 

having known her for a short time,

 

She,

having heard this before,

was becoming impatient.

 

being very emotional,

 

 

wanting little to do with him,

 

END–COMMENT / AFTERTHOUGHT

commaOccasionally, we add an afterthought with a comma or a dash. The reader is left to figure out how the clause relates to the sentence. This is informal usage. See  Dashes.

MAIN CLAUSE PARTICIPLE CLAUSE

It is hard for him to understand her point of view

, being a guy. (informal)

 

, being so rational. (informal)

 

— having known her for a short time.

Her patience was wearing thin

— having heard this before. 

 

, being very emotional.

 

, wanting little to do with him

 

have little to do with it – be unrelated, not associated

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participle Clauses

Types

 

 

 

Three Types of Clauses  (Reduced Clauses)

REDUCED VERB CLAUSE¹ PREPOSITION + REDUCED CLAUSE CONJUNCTION + REDUCED CLAUSE

A clause with an active verb form  is realized as a present or past participle when it is reduced.  (The subject is not included.)

A clause that begins with a preposition is realized as the preposition + participle verb form (-ing)

or a subordinating conjunction and a reduced clause — also called adverbial clause (Quirk 14.22, 15.26), or prepositional clause (Huddleston 1011)

Having lost everything that mattered,
(He lost everything that mattered.)

Besides being an orphan,

When spotting a blue-footed booby,

Knowing all too well what would happen next,
(He knew all too well what would happen next.)

As a result of losing his password,

Before asking the question "Why?",

Having had his cake and eaten it too,
(He lost everything that mattered.)

In spite of having everything he wanted in life,

After opening his roommate's letter,

Overwhelmed by his own cleverness, 
(He lost everything that mattered.)

By trying out the equipment first,

Since discovering penicillin,

 

¹See Nonfinite Clauses "secondary verbs"
Related pages: See Clause Reduc 2, Because of -ing, After / Before -ing
Other odifiers before a clause: Evaluation AdverbsSpeech-act Adverbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participle Clauses

Uses in Writing

 

 

Participle Clause Uses

PLACING EMPHASIS / MAKING A TRANSITION

The initial placement of participle clause draws attention to the content. It can also transition the reader from the idea of one sentence to the idea of the next.

Employers carefully reviewed the educational background and experience of all the applicants. Being able to code the phone apps, Mark had an advantage over other applicants. (emphasis)

I was among 34 women out of a class of 776 at Harvard Business School. Many thought we walked into the business world at the very moment the glass ceiling was shattered once and for all. How wrong we were.  Entering the job market, we encountered a 23 percentage point earnings gap between men and women; we started at lower positions than equally qualified men; we were paid less and got fewer promotions.  (transition)

MOVING SHORTER CONTENT FORWARD

A preference for placing "light" or short clauses first is another reason for placing a participle clause before the "heavy" or longer clause.

Before sending our resumés, we researched a number of companies that were developing new products and in need of new technology consultants. (light)

We researched a number of companies that were developing new products and in need of new technology consultants before sending our resumés.  (heavy)

We researched a number of companies before sending them our resumés.  (balanced)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

Wearing so little, Elmo seems embarrassed by Katy's dress.
 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

Wearing so little, Elmo seems embarrassed by Katy's dress.

Wearing so little, Katy made Elmo feel uncomfortable.
See Because Clauses.

Marching against the excesses of Wall Street, the protests expand across the nation.

Marching against the excesses of Wall Street, protesters unite and expand across the nation.

Solution - lightbulbPop-Q   Because Clause,   Misrelated Clauses

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

(Advanced)

 

 

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

A reduced clause with a present or a past participle verb form is called a participial clause or adverb clause.  "It is considered incorrect to make sentences with 'misrelated participles', where an adverb clause has a different subject from the main clause… However, sentences like these are common and often seem quite natural, particularly when the main clause has preparatory it or there as a subject."  (Swan 411.4)

Subject: misrelated participles:
Being a scientist,
it seemed natural to wonder how it could happen.
Looking out the window of our hotel room, there was a wonderful view.  (in Italics – participial clause)

"Participle clauses can also be used in similar ways to full adverbial clauses, expressing condition, reason, time relations, result, etc."  (When the adverb is not included, the relationship must be guessed from context.)  (Swan 411.3-4)

 

A participle clause, also called a nonfinite clause or a gerund-participle clause, is one in which the subject is usually omitted and the verb is reduced to a gerund-participle form (-ing)  He is a guy.  being a guy, his being a guy.

"The non-finite clause is a supplement with the main clause as anchor…. The nonfinite clause is syntactically related to the main clause in that the missing subject is controlled by the subject of the main clause."

His hands gripping the door, he let out a volley of curses.   
(in Italics – nonfinite clause)

nonfinite clauses as modifiers and supplements  (Huddleston1265-6)
gerund-participle (verb form) – present linguistic analysis does not support the traditional distinction between a gerund and a participle (Huddleston  82, 1220)

 

Resources

 

 

 

Practice  1

Brothers

brothers
 

 

Relate the participle/adverb clause to the main clause.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 1-10" button at the bottom, or click the "check" button as you go.

 

1.

2.


3.
Raised by grandparents instead of parents,

4.
Having had older, retired parents,

5.
Being attractive young men,   

6.
Upon joining the Air Force, .

7.
Before entering college,

8.

9.
Building a school,

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Misrelated Quotes – Advanced

newspaper
 

 

Read for Errors

More than some other large banks, Bank of America's fate is also heavily intertwined with that of consumers.

Known for its aggressive approach, the church's latest target is The New Yorker magazine, which published a 25,000-word article that painted Scientology as corrupt and cultish.

Once a cold-weather destination, tourists are flocking to Miami Beach in summer, too.

Always drawn to the sciences, Mr. Kaido's interest in progressive politics grew in 1970, after he entered the law department at the University of Tokyo, a stepping stone for the country's elite.

Marching down Wall Street, there were protesters as far as the eye could see.

Unlike the Baby-Boomer generation, the children of today need far more time to "launch".

Having had his license suspended, he had to return to school and retrain in a completely new field.

Deciding that he would never eat anything that had eyes, Jacob began his vegan diet.

Being an adventurous type, parachuting from an airplane at the age of seventy-five was just one small item on George's bucket list.

Being a dancer in Las Vegas, Grandmother Lea looked out for her grand-daughter, Beatrice.

 

aggressive (adj.) – behaving in an angry, threatening way, as if ready to attack

bucket list – activities a person wants to do before dying

consumer (n.) – someone who buys and uses products and services

corrupt (adj.) – dishonest, illegal

cultish (adj.) – of an extreme religious group that is not part of an established religion

elite (n.) – persons of the highest class or level

flock (v.) – move in a large group such as a flock of birds

fate (n.) – the things that will happen to someone, especially unpleasant events;

heavily (adv.) – to a great degree; greatly; mostly; largely

intertwine (v.) – closely related to each other; tied together

launch (v.) – take off; move forward; leave the family home; (usually used for rockets, missiles, boats, or computer programs)

look out for – take care of, act as guardian

stepping stone (n.) – (expression) a stage or means of advancing

target (n.) – something or someone being attacked

 

 

 

 

Does the participle/adverb clause clearly relate to the sentence?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 11-20" button at the bottom, or click the "check" button as you go.

 

11.
More than some other large banks, Bank of America's fate is also heavily intertwined with that of consumers.

   

12.
Known for its aggressive approach, the church's latest target is The New Yorker magazine, which published a 25,000-word article that painted Scientology as corrupt and cultish.

   

13.
Once a cold-weather destination, tourists are flocking to Miami Beach in summer, too.

   

14.
Always drawn to the sciences, Mr. Kaido's interest in progressive politics grew in 1970, after he entered the law department at the University of Tokyo, a stepping stone for the country's elite.

   

15.
Marching down Wall Street, there were protesters as far as the eye could see.

   

16.
Unlike the Baby-Boomer generation, the children of today need far more time to "launch".

   

17.
Having had his license suspended, he had to return to school and retrain in a completely new field.

   

18.
Deciding that he would never eat anything that had eyes, Jacob began his vegan diet.

   

19.
Being an adventurous type, parachuting from an airplane at the age of seventy-five was just one small item on George's "bucket list".

   

20.
Being a dancer in Las Vegas, Grandmother Lea looked out for her grand-daughter, Beatrice.

   

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Bird Watching

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

 

 

 

 

Read for Errors

Last year, we had an opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.  Being a bird watcher, this trip was a dream.

However, before leaving, there was a lot of planning to do. We had to book flights to Quito, Guayaquil, and Baltra airport on Santa Cruz island.

Knowing that the number of visitors on the islands was limited, we requested an entrance permit and joined a guided tour group.

Arriving at Baltra airport, there were several people to greet us.

Having pulled out our visas, permits and passports, there was one more thing for us to do—pay a $100 national park entrance fee.

Then we boarded a shuttle bus. Upon entering the village of Puerto Ayora, there were birds everywhere.

Flying in circles over the fishing boats, the noisy birds followed the fishermen as they returned with the catch of the day.

On shore, people were emptying the boats, preparing the fish, cutting off the heads, removing the guts and putting the fish on ice. 

Eying a big fish, there was a fat pelican.  Unfortunately, the fish was too big for it to steal. 

Standing in line with all the other customers, there was a blue-footed booby. Its bright blue feet were as colorful as our sports shoes.  

Becoming impatient, its wings flapped for a reward. Soon a fish head fell to the ground.

Watching this scene was so amusing for us.

book a flight (v.) – reserve a seat on an airplane

eye, eying (v.) – to look at something carefully

guts (n.) – insides of an animal

impatient (adj.) – very eager for something to happen and not wanting to wait

reward (n.) – something that you get because you have done something good or helpful or have worked hard

shuttle bus  (n.) – a small bus that goes a short distance (one route; back and forth)

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 21-30" button at the bottom, or click the "check" button as you go.

 

21.
Last year, we had an opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.  Being a bird watcher, this trip was a dream.


22.
However, before leaving, there was a lot of planning to do. We had to book flights to Quito, Guayaquil, and Baltra airport on Santa Cruz island.


23.
Knowing that the number of visitors on the islands was limited, we requested a special permit and joined a guided tour group.


24.
Arriving at Baltra airport, there were several people to greet us.


25.
Having pulled out our visas, permits and passports, there was one more thing for us to do — pay a $100 national park entrance fee.


26.
Then we boarded a shuttle bus. Upon entering the village of Puerto Ayora, there were birds everywhere.


27.
Flying in circles over the fishing boats, the noisy birds followed the fishermen as they returned with the catch of the day.


28.
a hungry pelicanEying a big fish, there was a fat pelican.  Unfortunately, the fish was too big for it to steal. 


29.
a waiting boobyStanding in line with all the other customers, there was a blue-footed booby.


30.
Becoming impatient, its wings flapped for a reward. Soon a fish head fell to the ground.