freaking me out

1) It's freaking me out just thinking about it.

Is '1' correct or does it have a dangling modifier?

If it is correct, is 'just thinking about it' a gerund, or is it an adverbial?

Is the first 'it' a dummy 'it' making the sentence equivalent to:
2) Just thinking about it freaks me out.

Or do both 'it's refer to the same thing?

Original Post
Navi, this is a sentence that I rarely, if ever, use in my most formal writing, but let's see what I can do.

If both "it"s referred to the same thing, I think the sentence would have to be understood to mean:
    It's freaking me out while (and, implicitly because of the fact that) it is thinking about itself.
My sense is that "just thinking about it" is a gerund. The adverbial has some problems:
    It is, just thinking about it, freaking me out.
Finally, your example (2) is not a good paraphrase. It should be:

2': Just thinking about it is freaking me out.

There is a significant difference in meaning.
Thank you very much, DocV,

Yes, I messed up the tenses, didn't I?

And I can see clearly now that the adverbial reading does not work. It cannot freak me out by thinking about itself...

The signpost up ahead says: 'The Twilight Zone'.


Would a comma change the meaning of the sentence?

1) It's freaking me out, just thinking about it.

I think the basic meaning would be the same, but things would change grammatically. The gerund would be in apposition to 'it', which in this case would not be a 'dummy it', but a proper pronoun.


I'm not really sure the comma adds anything.

I see that I overlooked some of your questions in my previous reply. I think that (1) is correct as it is, if we accept that "to freak one out" is proper English. (I say it, so it must be!) Structurally, it is similar to:

3: It's frustrating having to answer these same questions yet again.

And yes, the first "it" is a dummy "it". (2') is a proper paraphrase of (1), and is definitely grammatical.

1, second version) It's freaking me out, just thinking about it.
Anyway, what kind of horrible world would this be if someone who was already so distressed had to worry about proper comma placement on top of everything else? It's freaking me out just thinking about it!
Thank you very much, DocV,

I have to admit that I have nightmares about commas. Semi-colons can be extremely frightening. But question marks are the worst. The sink into my flesh like hooks...

Exclamation marks wake me up, especially if there are two of them in a row!!

I've enjoyed this amusing discussion. Yesterday I wrote the sentence "Just thinking about it feels rejuvenating" and then realized that this thread must have been on my mind subconsciously!

I'd like to add another variation to the mix, one which has no extraposition (or quasi-extraposition) and in which nothing dangles, disappointing as that may be for Navi. Wink
    4) I'm getting freaked out just thinking about it.

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