Friday, April 4, 2014

Blogging from A to Z - today's words are dangling participle and Dudley

Welcome to day four of Blogging from A to Z. I'm going to discuss that pesky little dangling participle and hopefully help you identify them.

First, what's a participle? I had to look this up recently because either my grammar education was insufficient or thoroughly discarded during the summer after 7th grade. A participle is a verb form used to modify a noun, sort of like an adjective. A present participle phrase is most often signified by 'ing.

The horse chewing on the fence is mine. "chewing on the fence" describes the horse
Whinnying, Dudley galloped across the pasture. "whinnying" describes Dudley
Crashing through the bushes, Dudley surprised the other horses. "crashing through the bushes" describes Dudley. And yes, he does all these things, often at the same time.

Those are present participle and participial phrases. There are also past participles.

The damaged fence allowed the horses to escape. "damaged" described the fence.

So, what happens to make a participle dangle? Probably not Dudley chewing on it, although he's pretty talented. A dangling participle is one which has no clear subject to modify.

Jumping over the ditch, my saddle shifted sideways. Dudley was the one jumping over the ditch, but he's not present in that sentence. My saddle is the subject and it certainly wasn't doing the jumping--or else I need to sell it as a carnival ride.

Identifying dangling participles can be difficult because we all know what I meant. Sometimes our mind fills in the missing pieces. This isn't always the case. Leaving participles dangling in your writing can also confuse the reader. Too much confusion, they put the book down. The key is honing your eye/ear for 'ing and checking for the subject. Note that the participial phrase in the dangling example has an 'ing, but the sentence is past tense.

Dudley is a Morgan/Tennessee Walker cross. Some would expect him to be gaited, but he isn't, just clumsy, with each leg apparently trying it's own gait. So his trot was a disaster, but he cantered smoothly and would canter anywhere I asked, through brush so dense he couldn't see anything, over any log, down and up any ravine.

He was a bit of a pest - imagine a permanent five-year-old child with ADHD. I just had to direct all that energy. As long as we went forward, I didn't care about the bucking! I bought him after several others considered him worthless and un-trainable.

Don't you love it when a person or animal is spectacular, despite other's expectations?

Note: this post was scheduled, we're at an endurance ride on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, I'll post responses when we return - and hunt down more new A to Z blogs to follow!


  1. I enjoyed reading the ramblings here

  2. Thank you! Next time - leave me your blog link so I can see what you're up to. A to Z is so much fun!