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The modifier here:

Seeing the potential in data, the industry has already started to employ cognitive computing.*

Grammarly identifies Seeing the potential in data as a dangling modifier. However, I feel that this sentence modifies the subject. For example (the industry sees the potential in data).

Am I wrong?

  • Perhaps this has to do with already. The intention appears to be that the seeing caused the employing. But already makes it look like the employing predates the *seeing, leaving the first clause disconnected from the rest of the sentence. – Lawrence Aug 31 '17 at 5:18
  • nope. Grammarly still identifies it as a dangling modifier. I don't know why. It doesn't give any expalanation for this. – user1917231 Aug 31 '17 at 5:35
  • Grammarly is not capable of understanding grammar. This looks like an error on Grammarly's part – sumelic Aug 31 '17 at 5:54
  • @sumelic in your opinion, would Having seen instead of seeing would be better in this context? – user1917231 Aug 31 '17 at 6:09
  • No; "having seen [...] has already started" doesn't seem like a natural sequence of tenses to me. – sumelic Aug 31 '17 at 6:10
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No, I think you're correct. As explained in the Purdue Online Writing Lab, a dangling modifier is:

a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence.

They give this example:

Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.

The modifier refers doesn't refer to the TV that's mentioned in the sentence, it refers to the person who turned it on.

In your example, it's clear that "seeing" refers to what the industry has done, so it's not dangling.

I believe Grammerly is merely being overly cautious, since it doesn't have enough understanding of context to tell whether "the industry" is capable of "seeing the potential in data". Perhaps when the subject of the main clause isn't a word it recognizes as an animate object (a person or animal), it assumes that this sentence structure contains a dangling modifier -- it's hard for a computer program to know when some nouns can be anthropomorphized. The designers may have a general philosophy that false positives are acceptable, because the user can easily ignore them when they know better.

  • And what if the transvestite was given an assignment to watch some titillating video? Then POWL’s example isn’t dangling either! – Jim Aug 31 '17 at 19:09
  • @Jim I didn't understand what you meant, until I realized that TV could be an abbreviation for transvestite (I've never heard that use before, but maybe I don't move in the right circles). – Barmar Aug 31 '17 at 19:13
  • The only transvestite I know of is Eddie Izzard. – Jim Aug 31 '17 at 19:20
  • @Jim Never heard of RuPaul? – Barmar Aug 31 '17 at 19:22
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    I know that. But it seems like transgender was not as acceptable or understood in the past, so many people who were actually transgender were viewed as only transvestites. I.e. they didn't come out as transgender, so all the public knew was that they dressed opposite of the gender we assumed. – Barmar Aug 31 '17 at 19:35
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It's not. "Seeing" clearly relates to "the industry." There is nothing ambiguous about which noun the particle references. The tense, however, is a little odd given the "already" as a comment shrewdly pointed out.

"Having seen ..., the industry has already ..." or "The industry, having seen ..., has already ..."

The two sentences above show that there is nothing wrong with the placement of the participial phrase.

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