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Unattached participle

Posted by Bruce Kahl on July 15, 2004

In Reply to: Unattached participle posted by Henry on July 15, 2004

: : The sentence is:"Seeping around the edges, she began to feel the relief..." Should it mean that she was begining to relax?

: What was seeping? The woman or the cause of the relief?
: Grammatically, 'seeping' should refer to 'she', but this seems unlikely here.
: 'Seeping' appears to refer to the cause of the relief, and is therefore an unattached participle. This is a frequent mistake that, as here, can obscure the meaning. Try to avoid it in your own writing!
: You may well be correct to think the sentence means that she is beginning to relax.

Yes, dangling or unattached participles are not considered acceptable in standard English, so they should be avoided in writing.

How 'bout:

"Seeping around the edges,the denture adhesive took effect and she began to feel the relief."

One I used to use as an example to students:
"Walking back home yesterday, a tree nearly fell on my head".