Common Stumbling Blocks - Peculiar Constructions - Misused Forms.
A participle or participial phrase is naturally referred to the nearest
nominative. If only one nominative is expressed it claims all the
participles that are not by the construction of the sentence otherwise
fixed. "John, working in the field all day and getting thirsty, drank
from the running stream." Here the participles working and getting
clearly refer to John. But in the sentence,--"Swept along by the mob I
could not save him," the participle as it were is lying around loose and
may be taken to refer to either the person speaking or to the person
spoken about. It may mean that I was swept along by the mob or the
individual whom I tried to save was swept along.
"Going into the store the roof fell" can be taken that it was the roof
which was going into the store when it fell. Of course the meaning
intended is that some person or persons were going into the store just as
the roof fell.
In all sentence construction with participles there should be such
clearness as to preclude all possibility of ambiguity. The participle
should be so placed that there can be no doubt as to the noun to which it
refers. Often it is advisable to supply such words as will make the
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