Similar to the rats, Jensen discovered that the animals favored working.

Can i see this sentence like below?

(Being) similar to the rats, Jensen discovered ~ =As the animals was similar to ~

Is this possible?

  • 1
    That’s presumably the intended meaning, yes. It’s a terrible sentence, though. From the structure alone, the most likely interpretation is that the rays had discovered that the animals favoured working, and then later on Jensen discovered it too. Or that Jensen, who was similar to the rats, discovered that the animals favoured working. The intended meaning would probably have been the least likely interpretation if it weren’t for the fact that the two more like interpretations don’t make an awful lot of logical sense. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 30 '18 at 8:46
  • I just quoted the sentence from one passage. In the passage, i think, the writer intends the meaning that since the rats chose to work for their food, similarly, other animals would choose to work. If i want to interpret the sentence like above meaning, then still is it possible to see it as ‘As the animals~’? – Yun Oct 30 '18 at 8:58
  • That seems to me a more plausible meaning for the sentence. It would have been much better expressed as 'Jensen discovered that, like the rats, the [other] animals favoured working'. – Kate Bunting Oct 30 '18 at 9:44

Your sentence Similar to the rats, Jensen discovered that the animals favored working begins with what is often called a misplaced modifier. The version Being similar to the rats, Jensen discovered that the animals favored working contains an example of a subset of this concept, called a dangling participle.

In both cases the problem is that similar to the rats could be mistaken as referring to Jensen (i.e., that Jensen is similar to the rats). Of course, most people will understand the intended meaning, but careful writers will wish to avoid giving offence to the stern grammarians among their readers.

So the similar to rats phrase is better placed at the end of the sentence:

Jensen discovered that the animals favored working, similar to the rats.

TheFreeDictionary has this extract about misplaced modifiers in its article about adjuncts, of which similar to rats is an example

Another important note about adjuncts is that if they are placed too far away from the word or phrase they are modifying, or too near to another word or phrase, there can sometimes be confusion about what they are modifying. These are known as misplaced modifiers.


Grammar Girl has a good article about dangling participles. She summarizes: A dangling participle modifies an unintended subject.


  • Thank you. Now i understand the concept of dangling participle. So the sentence i quoted was wrong and it should be fixed. :) – Yun Oct 30 '18 at 9:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.