I have decided to institute a weekly, grammar blunder post to my blog line-up. Fear not, I have made all of these errors myself; and, as my beta readers can attest, I am still making some of them. I am by no means a grammar perfectionist, so I decided to call on the expertise of my favorite copy-editor to help out with these posts.
In my mind, the comma splice is the most egregious offense a writer can make. Copy-editor extraordinaire, of course, disagrees. Her pet peeve -- the dreaded dangling participle.
What is a dangling participle phrase? They are adjective clauses, often found at the beginning of a sentence, that are intended to modify something other then what it actually does. For example:
Having been dead for weeks, my brother dug up Mom’s rosebush.
In this instance, the participle phrase “having been dead for weeks” actually modifies “my brother” when the writer probably intended it to modify the rose bush.
Just keep in mind that your opening phrase, no matter how intriguing it may be, should always modify what immediately follows the comma. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got yourself a dangling participle and one very irritated copy-editor. Sorry Mom!