What’s so dangerous about . . . whatever those things are? What is a participle? It’s a verb or a noun that gets turned into an adjective. Participles can be in the present tense or the past tense, and the present participle always ends with “ing.” For example, “sing” is a verb, and “singing” is its present participle.
Here are some examples of sentence openings with participles:
- Floating downstream . . .
- Beating me at cards . . .
- Turning the doorknob . . .
There is nothing wrong with beginning sentences with these phrases, but watch what happens when close attention isn’t being paid to the subject of the phrase:
- Floating downstream, the day seemed so peaceful.
- Beating me at cards, my fun evening with my friends cost me my week’s wages.
- Turning the doorknob, the noises in the creepy room scared me.
You’d have a strange story with days that float down streams, evenings that can play cards, and noises that can turn doorknobs. These erroneous constructions are called “dangling participles”—because a phrase ends up hanging all by its lonesome without a proper subject to support it.
Solution: Do a search through your document for ing and examine all sentences that begin with a participial phrase. If any are dangling, grab the correct noun and put it in place to support the phrase.