From today’s Times:
A parliamentary select committee is embarking on a taxpayer-funded visit to California this weekend, even though it will cease to exist within weeks.
If this sentence feels a bit odd to you, join the club! It’s a perfect example of one of the classic grammatical errors: the wrongly attached participle.
The author’s quite reasonable outrage is made rather less reasonable if you consider that, as the sentence stands, it’s making the rather fatuous observation that this weekend will “cease to exist within weeks”. One might, perhaps, more accurately observe that this weekend will cease to exist in fewer than 48 hours!
Of course that’s not what the author means! All he need do, to rectify the situation, is move the participle from the beginning to the end:
Even though it will cease to exist within weeks, a parliamentary select committee is embarking on a taxpayer-funded visit to California this weekend.
Now the sentence is making the author’s intended point: that the members of a soon-to-be-dissolved parliamentary committee have no business wasting taxpayers’ money on a jaunt to the Sunshine State!