F4: Misplaced Modifiers

F4: Misplaced Modifiers: A misplaced modifier (word, phrase, or clause) is placed too far from the word or words it modifies (clarifies, describes), which makes the sentence awkward and unclear.  Place modifiers beside the word or words they modify.  See Writing for Success Section 2.7 pp. 92 or the following: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/modifiers.htm

 

Misplaced modifying word

Ben passed the test by biking across the park and swimming to the island proficiently.

(Incorrect)  — it could be interpreted that he only swam proficiently.

Ben passed the test proficiently by biking across the park and swimming to the island.

(Correct) — “proficiently” modifies “passed the test” so the adverb should go next to it.

 

Misplaced modifying phrase

Her boyfriend was large man with a tattoo named Steve.

(Incorrect) — it sounds like the tattoo is named Steve.

Her boyfriend was a large man named Steve with a tattoo.

(Correct) – “named Steve” modifies “man,” so the adjective phrase should go next to it.

 

Misplaced modifying clause

Then there was the guy who had the three dogs that she married.

(Incorrect) — it sounds like she married the dogs.

Then there was the guy that she married who had three dogs.

(Correct) — “that she married” modifies “guy,” so the adjective clause should go next to it.