What is a misplaced modifier?

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Correcting Misplaced Modifiers
What is a misplaced modifier?
How to fix misplaced modifiers
One-word modifiers
Phrase modifiers
Clause modifiers
Review A
Review B
What is a misplaced modifier?
The placement of one little word does matter.
Notice how the meaning of the sentence changes
when nearly is moved from one place to another.
All
Nearly
of theallskaters
of the skaters
nearly fell.
Everyofone
Most
theofskaters
the skaters
fell,
but not
came
close
quite
toall
falling.
of them.
In each place nearly modifies a different word.
What is a misplaced modifier?
A word, phrase, or clause that seems to modify
the wrong word or word group in a sentence is
called a misplaced modifier.
Misplaced modifiers are confusing.
Adverb phrase
Anna said after dinner she would do the dishes.
Verb
Did Anna say this after dinner?
Is she going to do the dishes
after dinner?
Verb
What is a misplaced modifier?
A misplaced modifier can be funny too.
Adjective clause
Van gives the sculptures to his friends that he carves.
Noun
Noun
Does Van carve his friends?
Common sense tells us that he carves
sculptures, not his friends.
But the noun friends is right before the
adjective clause, so it sounds as though
he carves his friends.
What is a misplaced modifier?
A misplaced modifier can be a one-word adjective
or adverb, a phrase, or a clause.
OR
Adverb
Loudly, Kendra jumped when the door slammed.
OR
Adjective phrase
We are used to the noise living by the airport.
OR
Adjective clause
The picnic in the park that we had was fun.
What is a misplaced modifier?
On Your Own
Determine whether the underlined word or phrase is a
misplaced modifier. Write M for a misplaced modifier, or C if
the modifier is not misplaced.
___ 1. The jogger twisted her ankle with the orange water
bottle.
___ 2. Those note cards that I gave you are handmade.
___ 3. Running in the wheel, I watched the hamster.
___ 4. My cousin gave me a cat who goes to college in
Arizona.
[End of Section]
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Place modifying words, phrases, and clauses as
near as possible to the words they modify.
Devon watched the fish
in the tank sitting quietly.
Where should these two phrases be placed in this sentence?
Sitting quietly, Devon watched the fish in the tank.
Who was sitting quietly? Devon was.
What was in the tank? The fish were.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
One-word modifiers
Be especially careful to place these modifiers right
before the word they modify, so that your meaning
is clear.
almost
even
hardly
just
merely
nearly
not
only
Jackie borrowed some books
only for the weekend.
=
Only Jackie borrowed some
books for the weekend.
=
She borrowed them for
the weekend, not for any
other time.
Jackie—and no one else—
borrowed some books.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Phrase modifiers
When a sentence contains more than one
modifying phrase, follow these steps to make sure
none of them are misplaced.
Sara studied the statue with a
serious look made of metal.
Step 1: Find the basic sentence.
Sara studied the statue.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Phrase modifiers
Step 2: One at a time, insert the phrases near the
word or words they modify.
Phrase 1:
with a serious look
This phrase should modify Sara.
With a serious look, Sara studied the statue.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Phrase modifiers
Step 2: One at a time, insert the phrases near the
word or words they modify.
Phrase 2:
made of metal
This phrase should modify sculpture.
With a serious look, Sara studied
the statue made of metal.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Clause modifiers
When a modifying clause seems to be misplaced,
follow these steps to fix the sentence.
Adjective clause
There is a dog on our porch that has a red collar.
Step 1: Decide which word or word group the
clause should be modifying.
OR
Adjective clause
There is a dog on our porch that has a red collar.
Does the porch or the dog have a red collar?
The dog does.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Clause modifiers
Step 2: Decide if a phrase or another clause is
coming between the clause and the word it should
be modifying.
Adjective clause
There is a dog on
on our
our porch
porch that has a red collar.
Prep. phrase
The prepositional phrase separates
the adjective clause from the noun it
modifies, dog.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
Clause modifiers
Step 3: Decide where to move the phrase or
clause that is causing the confusion.
Adjective clause
There is a dog on
on our
our porch
porch that has a red collar.
Prep. phrase
Adjective clause
On our porch there is a dog that has a red collar.
Moving the phrase to the beginning of the sentence eliminates
the confusion. Now, the clause is next to word it modifies.
How to fix misplaced modifiers
On Your Own
Revise each sentence to correct the misplaced modifier.
1. The parrot spoke to the little boy in the brass cage.
2. Paved with fresh asphalt, I noticed the new bike
paths.
3. I saw a dog chasing a ball through the dining
room window.
4. She noticed a spider near the bush that had a red
spot on its back.
[End of Section]
Review A
Identify and correct the misplaced modifier in each
sentence.
1. Made of silver, I gave a bracelet to my friend.
2. Arthur borrowed a mountain bike from his uncle
with eighteen speeds.
3. Those tapes came from the library that you heard.
4. Jumping, I saw the gazelles.
5. The fruit was marked for quick sale bruised by the
storm.
[End of Section]
Review B
Revise each sentence to correct the misplaced
modifier.
1. Tired, the route home seemed long to the boy.
2. We could see the wheat growing from our back
windows.
3. My oldest brother just graduated from college, who
lives in Maine.
4. The girl is from my class who won the award.
5. Jan has only finished one of her papers.
[End of Section]
The End
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