Family Brings People Down (is it Thanksgiving already?)

Must be a full moon, or something akin, as I keep coming across these dangling modifiers at work. The following was the latest:

“The CMHA provides a wide range of services and supports to people who are experiencing mental illness and their families to develop the personal tools to lead meaningful and productive lives.”

The above sentence suggests that the Canadian Mental Health Association helps people who are experiencing mental illness and experiencing their families. The “their” is doubly ambiguous as you might question whether this phrase refers to the families of the “people” or of the “CMHA.” Now, I don’t want to judge anybody, but maybe the families of the CMHA can be a bit of a handful and one might need support after experiencing those families.

The solution: commas (and this is why I love commas; commas do save lives!):KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

“The CMHA provides a wide range of services and supports to people who are experiencing mental illness, and their families, so as to help those people develop the personal tools necessary to lead meaningful and productive lives.”

Okay, so the sentence needed a bit more cleaning up to become more coherent: the CMHA was the subject carrying out the action of the end clause, but the way that clause was initially written suggested that the people (object of sentence) were the ones developing personal tools for themselves, rather than the CMHA (subject of sentence) helping people to develop personal tools.

 

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