© Ugur Akinci
“Dangling Participles” is the kind of writing error you should avoid in your technical documents because it changes the meaning of a sentence and often leads to unintended humor.
But first — what is a “participle”?
PARTICIPLE is the present- or past-participle form of a verb which is used as an ADJECTIVE.
“DEPLETED battery…” (DEPLETED is the past participle of the verb TO DEPLETE)
“The CODING errors…” (CODING is the present participle of the verb TO CODE)
“The WIRING instructions…” (WIRING is the present participle of the verb TO WIRE)
DANGLING PARTICIPLE describes a situation when we cannot tell the correct subject of a verb due to the improper placement (“dangling”) of the “verb participle” in a sentence.
“Burnt beyond recognition, the technician replaced the control board.”
What is “burnt beyond recognition” is of course the control board, not the technician.
A better sentence would be:
“The technician replaced the control board which was burnt beyond recognition.”
“Covered with a dozen error messages, I had to close the application window.”
BETTER: “I had to close the application window which was covered with a dozen error messages.”
Assignment: can you re-write the following sentence without a dangling participle?
“Collapsing under the weight of an unusually high traffic volume, we had to upgrade our servers.”