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Monday, January 30, 2012

Misplaced/Dangling Modifiers

Occasionally, you may read something that is worded in such a way that you are left wondering what the writer meant.  In published works, this is rare, but there have been a couple of times I wanted to contact an author and ask their meaning!
I can usually figure it out by rereading several times, but I lose confidence in the author if it happens several times in the same book.

When learning about writing, misplaced modifiers are one thing to watch out for.   Sometimes they are so funny!

Example:  "Hanging on a nail in his closet, my husband found his tie."
Was my husband really hanging on a nail in his closet when he found his tie?
Correction:  "My  husband  found his tie hanging on a nail in his closet."
OR "Hanging on a nail in his closet, my  husband's tie was found."
The phrase "hanging on a nail in his closet" modifies the noun "tie."
The second way of correction doesn't seem to flow as smoothly as the first, and it changes the subject of the sentence (which is fine).  Sometimes you may need to try several sentence structures before finding the one that conveys the meaning you wish.

Example:  "The boys ate sandwiches that Mom had made in the tent."
Did Mom make the sandwiches in the tent?  She could have, but is this what the writer intended to say?
Correction:  "In the tent, the boys ate sandwiches that Mom had made."
If Mom did make the sandwiches in the tent, the first sentence would be correct, but may leave the reader unsure, especially if they know about misplaced modifiers.
This example, "In the tent, Mom had made the sandwiches that the boys ate," still sounds like the Mom was in the tent.
I also wouldn't say, "Mom had made the sandwiches in the tent that the boys ate."
How funny!  Those are some hungry boys!  =)

Example:  "Jumping up and down with excitement, the gift was given to me."
Was the gift jumping up and down with excitement?
This sentence needs to be reworded a little, as well as needing additional words.
Correction:  "I jumped up and down with excitement as the gift was given to me."
Or:  "Jumping up and down with excitement, I accepted the gift."

►Learn more about misplaced and dangling modifiers and take online quizzes to see how you do at

►Here are some funny church bulletin bloopers:  =)
• Seven new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
• Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
• For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.


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