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I recently had a linguistically interesting exchange with a friend. I said "Happy Birthday!" and he said "As the only guy on the planet born on Christmas, I'm glad you remembered." While obviously he meant himself when referring to the only guy on the planet born on Christmas, I'm not sure if that's grammatically correct strictly speaking.

In this case, would the 'as the only guy on the planet born on Christmas' apply to 'I' or 'you'?

  • It applies to “I” - your friend. – Jim Dec 26 '17 at 5:17
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“I” is the subject, and the “as…” clause modifies that subject, so indeed the grammar matches the intent. If “I” were not the grammatical subject, then technically the “as” clause would be a dangling modifier:

As a guy with a common first name, people often use my last name.

Here, “as a guy…” would apply to people, not me, if interpreted literally. This is considered an error or awkward in formal speech or writing, but commonly appears in everyday speech—it’s understood as something like:

Speaking as a guy with a common first name, I say people often use my last name.

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