Undangling the state of verbal modifiers

Not long after Minnesota committed to Wisconsin, both states realized that they were dangling their participles.

Embarrassed, they apologized toThorson and delicately reminded him that the recruiting process usually starts with an oral, or spoken, commitment.

Thorson retorted that verbal, or with words, could be correct. He acceded, though, that if they wanted to be sticklers for proper usage, oral was the better word.

Then Thorson reminded them that whether oral or verbal, Wisconsin and (by association) Minnesota were still dangling. The only solution would be for Thorson to replace Wisconsin.

The moral of this participial tale: Remember that participles work as adjectives and must be attached to the noun or pronoun they modify. Here’s what the writer (and editor) should have done:

After orally committing to Minnesota early in the recruiting process, Thorson received an offer of a full-ride scholarship from Wisconsin.

The other moral: Never dangle Wisconsin if you’ve already committed to Minnesota. If you do, you’ll find yourself in Kansas, most likely in a state of confusion.

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