1

I recently came across a sentence that goes “As a father, it's my job to respect my son's opinion.” In this sentence, the prepositional phrase “as a father” is describing me (the noun “I”). However, this prepositional phrase is not placed right before the noun “my”. Is this sentence ungrammatical? Is there a dangling modifier?

I have another two sets of examples below. Am I right that e.g. 1 is correct whereas e.g. 2 is ungrammatical (ungrammatical in the sense that there is a dangling modifier)?

E.g. 1 As a politician, Johnny should not respond to citizens on the other side of the political spectrum in this way.
E.g. 2 As a politician, the way Johnny responded to citizens on the other side of the political spectrum was unacceptable.

How about this set of sentences? am I right that e.g. 3 is ungrammatical whereas e.g. 4 is grammatical?

e.g. 3 As a die-hard fan of Barack Obama, it is my honour to have a personal chat with him.
e.g. 4 As a die-hard fan of Barack Obama, I am honoured to have a personal chat with him.

4
  • Your second example is ungrammatical, but not because of the "As a politican" bit. You could say "As a politician, the way Johnny responded to the citizens was unnacceptable" for a closer comparison to your "father" example. Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 14:06
  • Corrected as suggested. Is e.g. 2 still ungrammatical now?
    – JC2020
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 14:12
  • As a native (Br.Eng) speaker, it does not sound wrong to my ear. The "father" example also sounds entirely natural. Neither would stand out to me as problematic if I heard them, or saw them in a book or newspaper. However, I will stop short of declaring it grammatically correct because I am not an expert on the rules of grammar from a prescriptive perspective. Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 14:16
  • I agree that the first example is perfect. We can also find: "My job as a father is to respect my son's opinion." I don't find your E.g. 2 to be good English unless the politician is the speaker: Being a politician, (I think) the way Johnny responded... In my opinion, "the way" interrupts the connection between "as a politician" and "Johnny".
    – Gustavson
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 14:41

2 Answers 2

1

On page 38 of Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd edition revised by Sir Ernest Gowers), we can read:

  1. As = in the capacity of. When this is used, care must be taken to avoid the mistake corresponding to what is called the UNATTACHED PARTICIPLE; we can say He gave this advice as leader of the opposition, or This advice was given by him as leader, he and him supplying the point of attachment; but we cannot say The advice which he tendered to the Peers was given as leader of the opposition. The writer of the following has fallen into this trap through being in too great a hurry with his that: I should like to say that as a social worker in this field, without exception, no contraceptive technique had been applied by any of the young women who came to me for assistance.

According to Fowler, for the appositive to be correct the referent has to be the subject or the agent of the same clause. I'd add that the referent can also be the object, as in: This advice was given to me as a junior.

In:

As a politician, the way Johnny responded to citizens on the other side of the political spectrum was unacceptable.

"Johnny" is the subject of a relative clause (the way (in which) Johnny responded...) and "as a politician" is thus unattached or dangling because it belongs to the main clause.

I have found no references to possessives functioning as antecedents, but I think anteposed "as"-phrases are acceptable with nouns like job, position, role, goal, etc. because they complementize such nouns, the only peculiarity being that, unlike normal complements, those phrases appear before the nouns they refer to:

  • My job as a father ...
  • As a father, my job ...

That is why I find this sentence:

As a father, it's my job to respect my son's opinion.

(= It's my job as a father to respect my son's opinion.)

more acceptable than this one ("as a die-heart fan..." does not complementize "honour"):

As a die-heart fan of Barack Obama, it is my honour to have a personal chat with him.

0

To add to Gustavson's answer, "as a(n) X" is not an appositive phrase. An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that provides an alternative description of the subject and stands side by side with it:

John, a politician, was fond of speaking to the public. (John is a politician, and he's fond of speaking to the public)

"As a(n) X" is a prepositional phrase and doesn't just alternatively describe the subject, but also implies causality between being X and the rest of the sentence:

John, as a politician, was fond of speaking to the public. (John is fond of speaking to the public because he's a politician)

So, your googling got you a bit of a red herring.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .