September 14 2009

Misplaced Modifiers

by Barbie in Grammar

Grammar Tip #2

When used properly, modifiers can add helpful details to your document. However, misplaced modifiers can cause confusion and occasionally add unintentional hilarity to a sentence. Use caution when including modifiers, or your sentence can have an unintended meaning:

Incorrect: Falling from the tree, Joe watched the leaves.

Was Joe falling from the tree, or were the leaves? The structure of this sentence implies that Joe was falling from the tree.

Correct: Joe watched the leaves, which were falling from the tree.

Incorrect: Jane was so hungry that she almost ate the whole pizza.

Did Jane almost eat but not actually eat the pizza? This sentence implies that Jane only came close to eating.

Correct: Jane was so hungry that she ate almost the whole pizza.

Tip: Place a modifying word or phrase as close to the word it is describing as possible.