Putting Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

In

Their Place

MISPLACED MODIFIERS
A

misplaced modifier is a modifier that is incorrectly separated from the word or words that it describes. Misplaced modifiers seem to describe words that the author did not intend them to describe. When modifiers are misplaced, the reader may misunderstand the sentence. Generally, the solution is to place the modifier as close as possible to the word or words it describes.

MISPLACED MODIFIERS

Misplaced modifier:

Sam bought a used car from a local dealer with a smoky tailpipe.

• Corrected version:
Sam bought a used car with a smoky tailpipe from a local dealer.

MISPLACED MODIFIERS

Misplaced modifier:

The robin built a nest at the back of our house of grass and string.

• Corrected version:
The robin built a nest of grass and string at the back of our house.

MISPLACED MODIFIERS

Misplaced modifier:

Christie almost sneezed fifteen times last evening.

• Corrected version:
Christie sneezed almost fifteen times last evening.

Dangling Modifiers
• A modifier that starts a sentence must be followed right away by the word that it describes. Otherwise, the modifier is said to be dangling, and the sentence takes on an unintended meaning.

DANGLING MODIFIERS

Dangling modifier:

Sitting in the dentist’s chair, the sound of the drill made Larry sweat.

• Corrected version:
As Larry was sitting in the dentist’s chair, the sound of the drill made him sweat.

DANGLING MODIFIERS

Dangling modifier:

Sitting in the dentist’s chair, the sound of the drill made Larry sweat.

• Corrected version:
Sitting in the dentist’s chair, Larry sweated at the sound of the drill.

DANGLING MODIFIERS

Dangling modifier:

Soaring through the sky, Brenda watched the highpowered jet.

• Corrected version:
Brenda watched the high-powered jet soaring through the sky.

NOW FOR SOME PRACTICE…
Go to the following website for some interactive exercises:

• www.webster.commnet.edu/grammar/quiz_list.htm

Scroll down to the heading “Structural Flaws” and do the exercises called “Modifier Placement” and “Modifier Placement II”.

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