Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Misplaced Modifiers

Anyone who has studied or taught grammar recently knows what a misplaced modifier is. For those of us who haven't a misplaced modifier is simply putting a prepositional phrase in the wrong place. As William Strunk says in his excellent book The Elements of Style "sentences violating [a rule about misplaced modifiers] are often ludicrous." Here are some examples:

Ms. Ruiz got a sweater for her dog with a snowflake pattern.

Roberto read that some turtles can swim quite fast in a magazine.

I saw the ants marching through my magnifying glass.

The man bought the rare photograph of Geronimo with the cellular telephone.

Mrs. Chu gives the sculptures to her friends that she carves.

The students met with a tutor who needed help in math.

The hero of the story, Bilbo Baggins is not a typical hero, who likes nothing more than chatting with his neighbors, sleeping, and eating.

The hat belongs to the girl with the feather.

The poster caught my eye on the wall.

A beautiful Bolivian weaving hangs on our living room wall from the town of Trinidad.

We saw Jose Clemente Orozco's beautiful murals on vacation in Guadalajara.

Sleeping on the roof, I saw our neighbor's cat.

Cleaning the attic, an old trunk was found.

Pacing in its cage, I watched the lion.

The turkey was large enough for three families stuffed with sage and bread crumbs.

The kitten belongs to my neighbor that is on the branch.

[The examples above are from The Elements of Language: Introductory Course pp. 510-514 and The Elements of Language: First Course pp. 541-546.]

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