by Beth Hill
I admit it; incorrect grammar is a pet peeve of mine, and the misuse of participial phrases ranks right up there at the top of the list of grammar no-no’s. Dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and nonsimultaneous participial phrases… those are the top three. I recently read the first book in series—I love a good series—and I was astounded at the number of mistimed participial phrases. I’d estimate that at least half of those participial phrases were absolutely impossible to perform at the same time as the action in the rest of the sentence. Half! Things like “Walking the dog, I drove to work.” Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the point is the action in the participial phrase must be concurrent with the action in the rest of the sentence unless there’s a modifier stating it’s not.
Oh, and the first sentence of the first book in the series had a misplaced modifier. First sentence. No, I’m not kidding.
Therefore, my rec is “Participial Phrases? C’mon, You Made that Up” by Beth Hill at The Editor’s Blog. Great title, right? This article starts from step one and walks through what participles are, why we use them, and how to use them properly. It’s a must-read for all authors and editors. Go check it out!
What’s the oddest illogical participial phrase you’ve ever come across? Leave me a note in the comments!