Dangling participle clause?

Would you accept these two sentences?

A. “Looking back, it was a wrong move …”
B. “Having said that, there are still things that …”

As second language speakers of English, we may have heard of a kind of grammatical error called ‘the dangling participle clause’. We may even have practised rewriting the following sentences so that the implied subject of the -ing clause agrees with the subject of the main clause:

– Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful.
– Reaching the station, the sun came out.

But utterances like A and B above are frequently produced by native speakers. And if they appear in our students’ compositions, should we correct them?

One line to take is that native speakers can also produce grammatical errors. Hence, A and B should not be tolerated.

Another line to take is that ‘Looking back …’ and ‘Having said that ….’ function like discourse markers (such as ‘On the other hand’, ‘Anyway’, ‘Actually’, etc.). They should not be treated as dangling participle clauses.

Conclusion: This is another example illustrating the importance of language awareness.


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