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CC0040

academic English workshops
2009-2010 Session 7– Misplaced Modifiers

Wience Lai
ccwience@hkcc-polyu.edu.hk 3746-0170 HHB 1630

What are the possible meanings that you can think of? The manager announced that two employees had resigned before the meeting.

ambiguous? What are the possible meanings that you can think of? She likes the music box on the book cover which is nicely decorated.

What are the possible meanings that you can think of? I just teach in the daytime.

What is a Misplaced Modifier?
A

misplaced modifier is inappropriately positioned in a sentence. makes the sentence unclear which word, phrase, or clause is modified.

 It

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.

Part B: Grammatical principles Review
Modifiers
Modifiers of Nouns Modifiers of Verbs

Misplaced Modifiers
How to correct misplaced modifiers

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.

How to correct Misplaced Modifiers
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.

How to correct Misplaced Modifiers
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 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.

How to correct Misplaced Modifiers
Avoid inserting a modifier between “to” and the verb that follows [split 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.

How to correct Misplaced Modifiers
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?]

How to correct Misplaced Modifiers
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.”

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises
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

Part C: Concept Boosting Exercises

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.

Homework Practice 4: Reflective Writing Practice III (Comments on a Journal Article)
In this task, you are required to i) read and choose a journal article relevant to your study discipline* (Health Care) and ii) write a reflection paragraph of 100-150 words on the article. Due Date: In the Workshop of Week 9 *You may use the electronic resources (e.g. Academic
Search Premier, Business Source Premier, ProQuest 500) available at the website of the CPCE Libraries <http://www.cpce-polyu.edu.hk/lib/content.php? cms=924> to search for a journal article in your study discipline.