Dangling modifiers are just as gross and ridiculous as they sound. Dangling… just… ew.
You know you have a serious problem when the person or thing you are trying to modify isn't even in your sentence. That's like milk duds without popcorn. Or something.
Dangling modifiers do not clearly describe or explain any part of the sentence. They come about when you take for granted that the reader will understand exactly what you are talking about. The sentence may imply the subject of your modifying word or clause, but you still need to state it in the passage.
There are two common ways to revise dangling modifiers, and both are virtually painless:
Add a word or words that the modifier clearly describes. Place the new material just after the modifier, and rearrange other parts of the sentence as necessary.
Enjoying the crisp fall breeze, the leaves floated to the ground in swirls of orange and gold.
Enjoying the crisp fall breeze, Janet watched the leaves float to the ground in swirls of orange and gold.
Wow, that is some poetic description in the first sentence. And if it were a poem, there might not be a grammatical error (emphasis on "might.") The poet might be personifying the leaves by saying that they—yup, the leaves—are enjoying the crisp fall breeze.
But it isn't a poem, so what we have there is dangling modifier. The first part of the sentence, enjoying the crisp fall breeze, is modifying a subject who isn't present—presumably someone who's watching those beautiful leaves fall while enjoying the breeze. The second sentence is correct because we've added that subject, Janet, who loves autumn leaves and pumpkin spice lattes. Janet, you're so basic.
Change the dangling modifier to a dependent clause.
While playing Donkey Kong Country, the pizza burned.
While Jeremy was playing Donkey Kong Country, the pizza burned.
There is nothing worse than wasted pizza. Nothing. Except for a dangling modifier… and we have one in the first sentence. It suggests that the pizza was playing video games. And while pizza may hold a special place in our hearts, it definitely can't hold a Wiimote.
In the second sentence, we've fixed the dangling modifier by adding Jeremy was, which changes the modifier to a dependent clause. Now it's clear that Jeremy is a Grade-A pizza-waster who should be locked up for crimes against pepperoni.