Is this sentence correct?

To use the computer, it need to be powered.

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    It "dangles", all right -- the subject is unspecified -- but it's not a participle. It's an infinitive. With to. Participles are something else. So, no, this is not a dangling participle; this is a dangling infinitive. – John Lawler May 1 '15 at 15:57

You are right: it is technically incorrect. Who is using the computer? The sentence doesn't say. A better wording would be, "To be used, the computer needs to be powered." Or, "To use the computer, you must supply it with power."

That said, frankly English speakers use dangling participles all the time and no one notices. I'd be careful in a paper for an English class, but for common speech it's not a big deal.

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  • Please, Sir! I notice! Sir! I loathe the things. What is your take on the similar phenomenon, I don't know what to call it: "Looking east from Lyon, Mont Blanc rises to 4600 metres."? I once tried to convince an American with a journalism degree that this is wrong, on the grounds that Mont Blanc is not in Lyon looking east, but failed. – David Pugh May 1 '15 at 15:12
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    Revised draft: That said, most English speakers, with the notable exception of David Pugh, do not notice ... – Jay May 1 '15 at 21:23
  • That example naturally leads me to ask, If Mont Blanc were to turn around and look west, would it rise to a different height? – Jay May 1 '15 at 21:24
  • Immortality at last! :-) – David Pugh May 1 '15 at 21:24
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    Which reminds me of the classic from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. I forget the exact words, but basically Bullwinkle says, "See this nail? When I nod my head, you hit it with the hammer." – Jay May 1 '15 at 22:43

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