Modifiers

A modifier should be placed next to the word it
describes.

Example

Note how the placement of the modifier creates
different possible meanings:

Note
how different placement of the word only creates a difference in
meaning between these two sentences.

Sentence A means that the shopper did not buy any ties.

Sentence B means that the shopper
visited only the tie department.

misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or
clause that is improperly separated from the word it describes.  Sentences
with misplaced modifiers often sound awkward, confusing, or downright illogical.

Some frequently misplaced
single words are

almost
even
exactly
hardly
 just
 merely
 nearly
 only
 scarcely
 simply

Example

The logical meaning of this sentence is not that the
vendor almost sold all of her pottery, but that she sold almost all of her pottery.

Therefore, almost correctly belongs next to
all
.
Example #1

As written, this sentence means that children
were served on paper plates.

On paper plates is misplaced.

Correctly written, the sentence means that hamburgers
were served, on paper plates.

Example #2

As written, this sentence means that the car
is carrying a briefcase.  Carrying a briefcase is misplaced.

Correctly
written, the sentence means that the man is carrying a briefcase.

Example#1

As written, this sentence means that the store
was broken..

 Correctly written, the sentence means that the toy
was broken.

    Example#2

As written, the sentence means that I forgot
my keys after I got home.

A squinting modifier is a modifier misplaced so that it may describe two situations.
     Example
The sentence above is unclear.
           
Does it mean that I told my son
when the game was over?

OR

Does it mean that I would play with him when the
game was over
?

An awkward separation creates
a confusing meaning.

Example

As written, this sentence separates the
auxiliary verb
from the main verb, creating an awkward gap.

A dangling modifier is
“dangling” because its placement gives it nothing to modify.

  In many cases, the
dangling modifier appears at the beginning of a sentence, although it can also
come at the end.  Sometimes the error occurs because the sentence fails to
specify anything to which the modifier can refer.  At other times the
dangling modifier is placed next to the wrong noun or noun substitute:  a
noun that it does not modify.

Dangling modifiers may
appear in a variety of forms.

In this sentence,
the modifier passing the building is positioned next to the
broken window
.

The resulting
meaning is that “the broken window” is “passing the building,”
clearly not the  intended meaning.

In this sentence,
the modifier once revised and corrected is positioned next to I,
suggesting that “I”
have been “revised and corrected.”

     In this sentence,
the modifier after roasting for three hours is positioned next to we,
meaning that
“we” have been “roasting for three hours.”

In this sentence,
the modifier to walk a high wire is positioned next to a
pole
.  As a result, the  sentence means that
“a pole” can walk “a high wire.”

Dangling elliptical clause:

 

In this sentence, the modifier when just six years old is positioned
next to my grandmother, suggesting that my six year old grandmother taught me ballet.

1. Create a word for
the modifier to describe.  Place it
next to the modifier.

(Sometimes you will
need to invent a subject.)

 

With the modifier next to my paper, the sentence clearly means
that “my paper” was “corrected
and rewritten.”

With the modifier next to an acrobat, the sentence clearly means
that “an acrobat” can “walk a high wire.”

 

2.
Rewrite the modifier (phrase) as an
adverbial clause, thus eliminating
the need for an immediate word to modify.

With its own subject, “was revised and corrected” clearly refers to
“my paper.”

     With its own subject, “was just six years old” clearly refers to
“I.”

      Now
the clause clearly shows that “we” have “roasted the
turkey.”

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