Mighty Red Pen

January 19, 2011

High-flying grammar

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Overseen,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:42 pm

For today’s special on misplaced modifiers, check out this tidbit. It was spotted in  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I’d say it has Harry literally dangling!




  1. I don’t really see the problem. The mention of ‘Dad’ and ‘his father’ make the meaning absolutely clear. I expect that Rowling realised that any alternative would just be too complicated, and decided – there’s no confusion, so we’ll just let it dangle.

    Comment by Warsaw Will — January 25, 2011 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  2. Regardless of issues of confusion, it’s just sloppy, silly, and awkward. It is the sort of writing that makes one wish that Fowler was back with cane in hand.

    Comment by David — January 26, 2011 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

  3. Yeah, I don’t see the problem either. I think this example could only be seen as a misplaced modifier if you think that modifiers must go as close as possible to the element they’re modifying.

    But whatever it is, it’s not a dangling modifier. I thought a dangling modifier was a participial phrase whose subject was not the same as the subject of the main clause, as in “Turning the corner, a handsome school building appeared.” That’s not what’s going on here.

    Comment by goofy — January 26, 2011 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

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