Is This a Dangling Modifier?

I recently asked language expert Paul Stregevsky the following question:

Q: Press critic Jack Shafer recently wrote, “Grown fond of Kelly in the evening, will they really switch to Kelly in the afternoon?”

I completely understand what Shafer is saying, but, from a strict grammatical viewpoint, isn’t this an example of a dangling modifier? Shouldn’t the first word after the comma refer to the viewers — something like this:

“Grown fond of Kelly in the evening, they may not readily switch to Kelly in the afternoon.”

A: ​I have asked myself this question many times! Without consulting Garner, I would say that the answer is this:

Technically, it is not a dangling modifier​ because “they” is the grammatical subject.

But, to a careful reader, this construction can disrupt expectations in the same way as a dangling modifier! It looks like a dangler and reads like a dangler.

It’s better avoided. But personally, I would probably use it, then smugly defend it when challenged. :)

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