My, my, my music hits me so hard
Makes me say "Oh my Lord"
Thank you for blessing me
With a mind to rhyme and two hype feet
It feels good, when you know you're down
A super dope homeboy from the Oaktown
And I'm known as such
And this is a beat, uh, you can't touch
Okay, okay, so grammar isn't nearly as fun as MC Hammer, his groove-inducing songs, or even his funky pants.
But bad grammar is like nails on a chalkboard.
So in the immortal words of Pastor MC Hammer himself, "Yo, sound the bell, school is in, sucka."
Today we're going to take a look at one of the most common errors to make--and one that I often catch myself making even today.
The Dangling Participle.
Dun, dun, DUUUUUUUUUN.
Now before you hit snooze, forget the uppity name and let me break it down for you. Take a look at this sentence.
Having suffered through eight hours of football, The Amazing Race was finally on TV, thanks to Jenna.
As it is, the sentence says that it was The Amazing Race that suffered through football, not Jenna. This is because the noun (Jenna) is in the wrong place. The noun (Jenna) has to be closer to what she's doing (suffering through eight hours of football) so that what you're trying to tell us is crystal clear. You (as the writer) know exactly what you mean, but we (as readers) need it spelled out for us.
When you start your sentence with an -ing verb (walking, talking, choosing) in a phrase, you must make sure the very next word after the comma is the person or thing who is doing the -ing action.
In this case, the sentence should read:
Having suffered through eight hours of football, Jenna grabbed the remote and changed the channel to The Amazing Race.
See the difference?
Here are some more examples:
After teaching for a full week with a sore throat, Friday afternoon was Mrs. Decker's last day with a voice.
After teaching for a full week with a sore throat, Mrs. Decker finally lost her voice on Friday afternoon.
Dancing on Broadway six days a week, a day off is really what Karen needs.
Dancing on Broadway six days a week, Karen really needs her day off.
Looking at a weekend with nothing to do, plan-making commenced immediately.
Looking at a weekend with nothing to do, she started making plans immediately.
You may be reading these sentences and thinking, "That's so obvious. I never make that mistake." Well, let me tell you this, my friends: I see it all. the. time. Even in my own writing. It really is just like toilet paper: you never intend to leave the bathroom with toilet paper on your shoe, but sometimes you're thinking about the awesome BLT with avocado you want to have for dinner and you forget to do a TP check.
So my best advice on the DP (dangling participle) front is this: when you write, build in PLENTY of editing time so that your writing will be DP--and TP--free.
Are you looking for more grammar help? Join my email list and then leave a comment below with your problem spots, your woes, your most-Googled grammar questions, and I'll add them to the brand-new cheat sheet I'm creating: Stuff You Missed in English Class.
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