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I came across this sentence on The Purdue Writing Lab:

I was irritated by Bill, constantly interrupting.

Further, it was mentioned that interrupting there is a participle.

So far so good.

However, if I slightly modify the word order I get this sentence

Constantly interrupting, I was irritated by Bill.

But this sentence is different from the first one and constitutes a dangling participle.

Am I mistaken in my analysis?

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    They both are very ambiguous which is a distinct feature of a dangling modifier. To me, in the first sentence, the participle modifies the object (Bill), whereas in the second sentence it's you who is interrupting (the participle modifies the subject) Mar 17, 2021 at 16:47
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    I think the first one is a terrible example, because of that unwanted comma - which imho can only be interpreted as meaning I (the subject) was constantly interrupting while being irritated by Bill (which is also the only syntactically credible interpretation if adverbial constantly interrupting is "fronted" as in the second example). Mar 17, 2021 at 16:54

1 Answer 1

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The first sentence has non-formal construction. In a formal situation, taken as it is, the first sentence would be just as confusing as the second sentence, and create the implication that the speaker was the one interrupting.

But because casual conversation doesn't always have perfect or crystal-clear grammar, the first sentence can be understood to mean that Bill was the one interrupting, especially if "constantly interrupting" is said in an annoyed tone.

The second sentence's syntax wouldn't be used in a casual conversation, which could lead to confusion and a feeling of a dangling participle.

I think Purdue's choice to use that sentence is not the best example for what they wanted to demonstrate.

Source: My personal experience.

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