I asked a question similar to this before and did not receive a suitable answer so I am going to try again.

In the business world where people often create unnecessarily complicated and poorly phrased sentences in an effort to avoid common ways of phrasing things to sound more formal, sentences like the following seem common:

Reviewing the work plan, the verbiage needs to be reworded.

Whenever I encounter such a phrase, I rewrite it to remove the leading participial phrase which I was taught is not grammatical (not to mention how horrible it sounds to my ears). I was taught that if the introductory participial phrase does not have a stated word that it can modify, it is not acceptable and called a "dangling modifier". In such sentences, the modifier is the unstated person who is implied to have reviewed the work plan.

Someone replied to my previous question that it is acceptable and called a "non-finite gerund-participial clause functioning as a supplementary adjunct". I have never heard of a supplementary adjunct and can't find anything about it. Does anyone happen to know if such phrases are acceptable in formal English.

I want to stress, I am not looking for ways to rephrase the sentence to remove ambiguity. I am explicitly interested in the grammaticallity of it as stated and if it sounds foolish to use that phraseology.

  • Native speakers of a variety of language don't (with high frequency, as you say) say or write sentences which would be ungrammatical in that variety. If they did, these sentences would in turn become part of their common language, and hence be regarded as grammatical. While the type of sentence at issue is, in the main, poorly regarded because of its vagueness / ambiguity, there's nothing ungrammatical about it. – user3395 Sep 24 '19 at 22:07
  • @userr2684291 Forgive me, I don't understand this explanation of grammatical. It seems to imply that expressions like "Me and him are doing something" and "Between you and I...", which are both extremely common in America at least, should be regarded as grammatical. Is that true? If so, is there a term that you are aware of that better describes what I am trying to get at which are expressions that are comprehensible but make the speaker sound like he has a poor grasp of formal English. Thanks. – G-Cam Sep 25 '19 at 14:47
  • If the majority of speakers of Standard English used Me and him are..., that construction would doubtless become grammatical in Standard English. Indeed, Between you and I is used by a significant proportion of speakers of Standard English, and can therefore be considered grammatical for those speakers (it'd be viewed as a mere variation, rather than a completely different dialect, as is the case with the non-standard Me and him are...). – user3395 Sep 25 '19 at 18:12
  • As far as the original sentence goes, what is problematic is whether the subject is recoverable. Is it the verbiage that's reviewing the work plan? You can call it poor writing, or poor phrasing, or a tentative grasp of the English language, but really, it's a lack of judgment at the moment of speaking / writing wherein the speaker / author assumes that things are known/obvious, which may not be as easily recoverable from the context later. People write these kinds of (neither foreign-, nor unnatural-, nor colloquial-sounding) sentences deliberately, daily, employing Standard English. – user3395 Sep 25 '19 at 18:33
  • I'd say the construction in the sentence at issue would go unnoticed in most writing regardless of formality, but it would definitely be nice to clarify such sentences so that no potential ambiguity may arise, and that the reader doesn't have to regress to figure out what the author meant. If you're the editor, and / or are sticking to some style guide that proscribes such usage, you'll do what you gotta do anyway. – user3395 Sep 25 '19 at 18:43

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