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    #1

    loose participles

    Dear teachers,

    I know that in all sentence construction with participles there should be such clearness as to preclude all possibility of ambiguity.

    Early in the morning I read the following sentence which caught my attention through its ambiguity. “Swept along by the mob I cold not save him.” In the present sentence the participle as it were is lying around loose and may be taken to refer to either the person speaking or to the person spoken about. It may mean that I was sept along by the mob or the individual whom I tried to save was swept along.

    Would you be kind enough to tell me in what manner I could avoid the present embarrassment?

    Thank you for your effprts.

    Regards

    V.


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    #2

    Re: loose participles

    I suppose one would assume that the person who needed saving was the person who was swept away by the mob, but I agree that it is ambiguous.

    It could be rephrased as:

    He was swept away by the mob therefore I couldn't save him.

    I am not a teacher.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: loose participles

    Ex: Swept along by the mob, I cold not save him.
    => I was swept away by the mob and hence the reason I could not save him.

    The subject of the participle phrase agrees with the subject of the main clause.


    The common or known phrase is "dangling participle", not loose participle.

    **A teacher**


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    #4

    Re: loose participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Ex: Swept along by the mob, I cold not save him.
    => I was swept away by the mob and hence the reason I could not save him.

    The subject of the participle phrase agrees with the subject of the main clause.


    The common or known phrase is "dangling participle", not loose participle.

    **A teacher**
    I read it the other way round

    In the same way as this example is to be understood:

    "Riding along on my bicycle, a dog knocked me over"

    However it is of course far clearer in this example!


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    #5

    Re: loose participles

    Quote Originally Posted by colloquium View Post
    I read it the other way round

    In the same way as this example is to be understood:

    "Riding along on my bicycle, a dog knocked me over"

    However it is of course far clearer in this example!
    I think Vil's suggestion that the sentence had a potential dangling participle is what forced your reading of it being so.

    Your example, in blue above, doesn't require a forced reading, as you have noted. First, the determiner "a" is a give away, as is the paralinguistic fact that, aside from circus animals, dogs generally cannot ride bicycles.

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    #6

    Re: loose participles

    That one was a laugh!

    Riding along on my bicycle, a dog knocked me over. - A dog knocked me over while he(she, it) was riding my bicycle.

    Riding along on my bicycle, I was knocked over by a dog. - Increased probability, for sure.

    Cheers!
    I.
    Last edited by IvanV; 11-Aug-2008 at 14:32. Reason: remove ambiguity

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    #7

    Re: loose participles

    Dangling participles can be rather funny, agreed, as can misplaced modifiers:

    A boy comes out of his house and tells another boy, who is playing outside, "They just said it's going to rain on the radio." The other boy, puzzled, asks, "If it rains on the radio, won't that wreck it?"
    Vil, see here Dangling Modifiers

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    #8

    Re: loose participles

    Just for laughs:

    [1] Driving down the street, Pizza Hut looked like a good place to go for dinner.

    [2] Having finished my dinner, the waitress offered to bring out the dessert tray.
    => I am not tipping a waitress who eats my dinner!

    [3] At age seven, her grandfather passed away.
    => Obviously the grandfather did not pass away at age seven.

    [4] Decked out in a stunning vintage Versace gown, the man couldn't take his eyes off his Academy Awards date.
    => Oh, those crazy actors . . .

    [5] Removing each other's fleas, the zoo workers watched the monkeys intently.
    => Ick!

    Source Misplaced Modifiers and Dangling Participles

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    #9

    Re: loose participles

    Just what I needed today.

    [3] At age seven, her grandfather passed away.
    => Obviously the grandfather did not pass away at age seven.
    Top-notch!

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    #10

    Talking Re: loose participles

    Goodness, I'm crying!

    ALL the examples are advertisements or signs taken from real life:
    - A superb and inexpensive restaurant. Fine food expertly served by waitresses in appetizing forms.
    (So don’t drool on the waitresses.)

    -For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.
    (What a picture!)

    -Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.
    (Way to go, granny!)

    -Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.
    (Nothing like beating those round-bottomed cooks!)

    -On a New York convalescent home: "For the sick and tired of the Episcopal Church." (I remember them. They didn’t go very far, did they?)

    -Notice sent to residents of a Wiltshire parish: DUE TO INCREASING PROBLEMS WITH LETTER LOUTS AND VANDALS WE MUST ASK ANYONE WITH RELATIVES BURIED IN THE GRAVEYARD TO DO THEIR BEST TO KEEP THEM IN ORDER.
    (Nothing worse than hootenannies in the graveyard -- and what the heck is a letter lout??)
    Missing or mutilated modifiers, again all from real life signs, ads or notices:

    -Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00.
    (I don’t think I want to eat here anymore.)

    -Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.
    (All the better to hear you with, my dear!)

    -For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
    (Now THOSE are some quiet children!!)

    -Don't let worry kill you ― let the church help.
    (I wonder if that’s how all those folks in the previous section got sick and tired?)

    -The hotel has bowling alleys, tennis courts, comfortable beds, and other athletic facilities.
    (Nuff said!!)


    Here we are talking about it and they and other unattached pronouns that refer to absolutely nothing in the sentence and give entirely the wrong meaning. Better to have too many proper names or real nouns than pronouns bouncing around with no social conscience and very little sense. (Yup, real life again.)

    !!!
    -Mt. Kilimanjaro, the breathtaking backdrop for the Serena Lodge. Swim in the lovely pool while you drink it all in.
    (Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!)

    -We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.
    (That’s what makes us the TEARminators! muahahahaaaaaa)

    !!!
    -Tired of cleaning yourself? Let me do it.
    (Ooooh, kinkyyyyy!)

    -Four-poster bed, 101 years old. Perfect for antique lover.
    (If he’s as antique as the bed, he ain’t getting far!)

    -In a clothing store: "Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks." (Dressing for their jobs at a sideshow?)

    -This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the alter.
    (What? The Easter Bunny was busy?)


    And some more... Perhaps I'm boring to some, but simply - don't read!

    -Leaping off the cliff, I saw the mountain goat land safely 20 feet below me.
    (Most people see their life flash before their eyes. I see mountain goats?)

    -Playing MMORPGs from dawn to dusk, the computer makes my eyes water sometimes.
    (My computer squirts stuff in my eyes, ya know.)

    !!!
    -Being flat, Kelly changed the tire. (Poor Kelly needs one of those new bras.)

    Oh, boy..

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