English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers Part A: Diagnostic Test

Identify and underline the misplaced modifiers in the following paragraphs. Then, revise these sentences to eliminate errors of misplaced modifiers in the space between the lines by putting “^” in the correct position. Paragraph 1

After a full day of work, we tend to restfully spend most of our time watching television because during primetime those dramas and comedy sitcoms are funny and hilarious, and they make us feel more relaxed. However, during these few years many reality shows are being broadcast as during primetime they have become more popular among the TV viewing audience. Reality shows are starting to gradually take over the traditional dramas and comedy sitcoms. Paragraph 2

Most of the audience enjoy watching reality shows because they believe what they see is the truth about the world in these shows. For example, in “The Survivor”, contestants have to compete and survive in order to win one million dollars on an unknown island. It makes the show more interesting since the people in the show are not acting. The audience get to see ultimately how those contestants use their talents to win the game. It is just reflecting our lives in which we have to compete for what we want. In other words, it is closer to reality. Due to its popularity, different kinds of reality shows who enjoy watching TV like “The Apprentice”, “The American Idol”, “Big Brothers” are produced to attract more audiences.
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

.Part B: Grammatical Sentences - Review Modifiers – A modifier is a word or groups of words which describes or identifies another word or group of words in the same sentence. It can be a single word, a phrase, or a clause. Modifiers of Nouns - A modifier may provide more information about a noun. More technically, they could be called “adjectivals”. Hong Kong is an international city [single word]. Firms from all over the world establish offices in Hong Kong [phrase]. Only those applicants who have passed the English proficiency test will be shortlisted for a second interview [clause]. Modifiers of Verbs - A modifier may provide more information about a verb. More technically, they could be called “adverbials”. Having near-native English proficiency can greatly enhance your job prospects in today’s competitive job market [single word]. In this essay, we will analyse the status of English from multiple perspectives [phrase]. Since the lecturer could establish a friendly atmosphere in the lesson, students participated actively in the class learning activities [clause]. Misplaced Modifiers - A modifier which is placed in a wrong position can distort the meaning and thus confuse readers. You may avoid misplaced modifier problems by putting modifiers as close as possible to the words being modified: Place modifiers such as even, only, merely, almost, nearly, just immediately before the words they modify. Example: Misplaced Modifier: The presenter speaks too soft; the audiences sitting in the front can only hear him. [Only intends to modify the audiences. Nevertheless, because of its position, it appears to modify hear in this sentence.] Revision: The presenter speaks too soft; only the audiences sitting in the front can hear him. Place clause modifiers beginning with who, which or that immediately after the words they modify. Example: Misplaced Modifier: The student received full marks in the test who is always punctual to the class. [who is always punctual to the class intends to modify the
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

student. Nevertheless, because of its position, it appears to modify the test in this sentence.] Revision: The student who is always punctual to the class received full marks in the test. Avoid inserting a modifier between “to” and the verb that follows [spilt infinitives]. Example: Misplaced Modifier: As tropical cyclone signal #8 has just been hoisted, the lecturer asks the students to quickly but calmly leave. Revision: As tropical cyclone signal #8 has just been hoisted, the lecturer asks the students to leave quickly but calmly. Avoid positioning a modifier in a place where its meaning is ambiguous, i.e. describing both what precedes and what follows them. Example: Misplaced Modifier: Tommy said after the examination he wanted to ask the lecturer for the model answers. [Did Tommy say this after the examination? Or did he have the desire to ask the lecturer for the model answers after the examination?] Depending on the meaning you want, we may revise this misplaced modifier problem in either way: Revision i): After the examination, Tommy said he wanted to ask the lecturer for the model answers. [after the examination describing said]. Revision ii): Tommy said he wanted to ask the lecturer for the model answers after the examination. [after the examination describing wanted]. Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises Exercise C1: Identify and underline the modifiers in the following sentences. Then, circle the word(s) being modified. 1. I do not think anyone can succeed without love. 2. If you lack passion for your work, you will not succeed. 3. Falling in love with your work can make a person perform better. 4. Michael Jordan, a famous American basketball player who played 1072 games and ended his career with 32,292 points, said in his retirement, “What is love? Love is playing every game as my last.”
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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

Exercise C2: Make sentences using the modifiers given. Then, circle the word(s) being modified. 1. silently ___________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. for several years _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. without hesitating ____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 4. although you would not believe it _______________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Exercise C3: Identify and underline the misplaced modifiers in the following paragraphs. Then, revise these sentences to eliminate errors of misplaced modifiers in the space between the lines by putting “^” in the correct position. Paragraph 1

Other than the fact that reality shows are more interesting, another reason why comedy sitcoms are fading out is that their plots are not attractive. Being broadcast during primetime, there are a lot of similarities among different shows. For instance, “The Seinfield” and “Friends” are both talking between friends about the relationships, and the endings of sitcoms are too predictable. Audience can tell probably what will happen at the end. Hence, they lose interest in these sitcoms. On

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English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Semester 1, 2009/10

Session 7: Misplaced Modifiers ©PolyU HKCC

the other hand, this is not so with reality shows; audience has no idea who is going to at the end win. Due to curiosity, the audience needs to watch the finale to find out the result. Till the end of the show, this is also one effective strategy which can keep the audience.

Paragraph 2

All those different kinds of reality shows can entertain us. However, broadcasting too many different kinds of reality shows about our daily life may make us feel insecure and worried. Perhaps one day there would be a camera and our daily life hidden in our homes would be broadcast. However, before that happens, let us enjoy these interesting shows.

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