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I am having trouble understanding one of the comments made by my supervisor on the latest draft of our scientific paper. She commented on the first sentence of the draft (Introduction section), she said that the sentence is hanging.

Here is my sentence:

Crowd tragedies continue to take lives all over the world.

btw. She has highlighted the word continue for some reason.

I really want to get this sentence right for the next draft to keep my supervisor motivated for working on the rest of the paper.

I would appreciate any help for improving the sentence or understanding the term 'hanging sentence'.

PS : I googled the term, but all I could find was some information related to dangling modifier. But I am not sure if my sentence falls into this category.

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You can say "The tragedy continues to take lives," which means the exact tragedy has happened, but some people involved in it die later in a hospital, for example. Or the tragedy, as such, continues, so it can continue to take lives.

When you say "Crowd tragedies continue to take lives all over the world." you mean tragedies in general and not specific tragedies, so they cannot continue to take lives. Only specific tragedies that actually occurred can continue to take lives.

In your case, "continue" is hanging, because it is not clear to which exact tragedy it refers.

So, you can simply say:

Crowd tragedies take lives all over the world.

or, if you want:

Crowd tragedies often take lives all over the world.

And yes, by saying that your sentence is hanging, your teacher very likely refers to a dangling modifier. This is a broad term, which refers to all cases in which it is not clear what a certain word in the sentence describes or modifies.

  • I guess "... you mean tragedies in general and not specific tragedies, so they cannot continue to take lives. Only specific tragedies that actually occurred can continue to take lives." was exactly what I needed. – 3yanlis1bos May 16 at 8:42

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