In yesterday’s NYT, in a letter to the editor from NPR talk show host Diane Rehm:
In a March 23 letter about the desire of my husband, John Rehm, to end his life after years of suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the writer described Parkinson’s as a chronic and progressive but not terminal condition. In fact, after suffering two bouts of pneumonia, brought on by John’s loss of muscular ability to swallow correctly, his doctor determined that John had six months or less to live and prescribed hospice care.
Pulling out the main part of the last sentence gives us:
(1) after suffering two bouts of pneumonia, … his doctor determined that John had six months or less to live and prescribed hospice care.
This has a subjectless predicational adjunct, after suffering two bouts of pneumonia, that does not pick up a referent for that missing subject from the subject of the main clause, his doctor — so it’s a classic dangling modifier (a non-default SPAR, in my terminology). Well, the determiner in the subject, the possessive his, does supply the required referent, even though the whole subject does not. This is a pattern I’ve posted on before, and other factors work together to make a modifier that should be acceptable to almost everyone.