A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective. We mostly see the present participle, verbs with the “ing” ending. The verb “hide” becomes “hiding” and can be used as a modifier, like in “a hiding place.” “Hiding” modifies the noun “place.”
Maybe I should mention now that I’m not an English major, so I’m doing my best to keep this simple.
A dangling participle modifies an unintended noun. The noun it was supposed to modify is either not present in the sentence or not placed correctly. We best use some examples to explain:
Running through the field, the flowers left pollen all over our socks.
The participle phrase “running through the field” appears to be talking about the flowers and not the children. A correct phrase would put the the intended noun right after the comma like this:
Running through the field, our socks were covered in pollen.
Ack! Wait a minute, now the socks are running through the field, let’s try again.
Running through the field, we got pollen on our socks.
Not a great sentence, but you get the idea. Ok, let’s try another one –
Having eaten my dinner, the waiter gave me the check.
How annoying for that waiter to have eaten the man’s dinner! The phrase “Having eaten my dinner” is followed immediately by “the waiter” leading the reader to assume just that. Here is the correct placement:
Having eaten my dinner, I asked the waiter for the check.
The big rule: when using a participle phrase (or any modifying phrase) the intended noun needs to appear right after the comma.
Now that you are a pro, see if you can fix these flawed sentences:
Sitting on the throne, the window seemed far away.
Skiing down the mountain, the penguin hat streamed behind the man’s head.
Turning the corner, the building looked even more impressive.
At the age of 5, my grandfather died. (not technically a dangling participle, but incorrect in the same way)
That’s all for today, for more advanced discussion on dangling modifiers check out these sites: