Following and using

Two common "-ing" words are especially troublesome. One is following. Often it is used incorrectly to mean after. Following is a noun or adjective meaning that which comes next, as in "check the following reference" or "animals were examined the following day." It causes problems because it sounds like a participle to the reader. "Following a fat meal, the animal collapsed" sounds as though the animal was trailing the meal when this happened. Substitute the word after, which is clearly a preposition.

The other "-ing" word to distrust is using. It often dangles. Even when correct, using is a dull word that appears too commonly in scientific writing. Substitute a richer, more interesting word whenever you can. If you cannot think of one, at least substitute the safer word with.

Exercise 6.8. Dangling participles and other misplaced modifiers

Untangle the sentences below. Transform the sentences into the active

voice when you can.

1.

Progressing toward the anterior chamber a lamination was evident.

2.

No bacteria were observed using dimethyl sulfoxide.

3.

Following experimentation, bacteria multiplied.

4.

Using this method the result demonstrated a correlation between

the variables.

5.

Intestinal sections can be examined for metazoan parasites using

an inverted ocular.

6.

Two stopwatches belonging to researchers that had been left leaning

against cabinets were badly damaged.

7.

For sale: Laboratory table suitable for researcher with thick legs

and large drawers.

8.

Two microscopes were reported stolen by the campus police last

night.

9.

Commercials have been prepared by the French government

encouraging the use of condoms that are thought to be blunt enough

to shock even liberal Americans.

Dangling participle: No mosquitoes were found using the standard bait traps.

Better: No mosquitoes were caught with standard bait traps.

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