Can You Spot the Error?

Here’s a summary of a police report from a news website. Can you spot the error?

While taking a report of a theft from vehicle on Arbor Road, a resident from the unit block of Devon Road approached me and reported that his vehicle that was left unlocked was also entered overnight. A briefcase containing a laptop computer was taken from the car, but no value was given for the stolen item.

Answer: There’s a dangling modifier in the first sentence, which refers to “taking a report” but doesn’t say that an officer was doing it.

While taking a report of a theft from vehicle on Arbor Road, a resident….DANGLING MODIFIER

The resident wasn’t taking the report – you were! The sentence should read like this:

While taking a report of a theft from vehicle on Arbor Road, I….CORRECT

Or you could rewrite the sentence like this:

While I was taking a report of a theft from vehicle on Arbor Road, a resident from the unit block of Devon Road approached me and reported that his vehicle that was left unlocked was also entered overnight. CORRECT

Dangling modifiers (in simple English, descriptions in the wrong place) often appear when you use an -ing word near the beginning of a sentence.

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