The wedding invitation came in a gorgeous linen envelope, sealed with the finest blue wax. It was printed on expensive cardstock, with a beautiful flowery design. It was addressed with perfect flowing calligraphy and had the almost obligatory USPS “Love” stamp attached. I’m sure the young couple took hours agonising over their choices.
It was all rather impressive and I’m sure they thought they’d nailed the wording.
But do you see it? The whole effect was ruined by my biggest pet peeve: a dangling modifier. (Seriously, I can spot them a mile away. Ask Dan sometime about our company policy.)
Remember that a dangling modifier is a modifier whose intended subject is missing from the sentence altogether. Let’s combine the lines above and look at that invitation again. It will help us spot the error.
“With Happy Hearts” is the modifier. It should actually be set off with a comma, but we’ll leave that for another time. It’s left out there just dangling at the beginning of the sentence because it’s trying valiantly to modify the “You” in “You’re”.
I do have a happy heart about the couple finally tying the knot, but I know they didn’t intend to say that “You”, the reader, have the happy heart. What they meant to say was they are very excited and have happy hearts to have included my husband and I in their celebration. One of these choices would have worked perfectly:
And it is with the happiest of hearts, my husband and I will attend.
(Editor’s note: The company policy on dangling modifiers is that we let Wendy spot them and fix them, because she loves them so much. It’s definitely deliberate. Not accidental at all.)
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