Common Grammatical Errors: The Misplaced Modifier

The Misplaced Modifier

  • Misplaced and dangling modifiers are phrases that are not located properly in relation to the words they modify.
  • Misplaced modifiers lead to illogical sentences that are difficult to follow.

Misplaced

A small book sat on the desk that Sarah had read.

The modifier:

“that Sarah had read”

The Problem:

This modifier is misplaced because it modifies the desk. It sounds as if Sarah had read the desk.

Corrected:

A small book that Sarah had read sat on the desk.

The two common types of modifier grammar errors are misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers. 
 1.  Misplaced Modifiers

  • The example above is a misplaced modifier.
  • Rewrite the sentence so that you place any modifiers as close as possible to the words, phrases, or clauses they modify.

 Misplaced

The professor posted the notes for the students covered in class.

The Problem:

The modifier, “covered in class,” appears to modify “the students.” Because the students are not covered in class, this is a misplaced modifier.

Rehabilitated:

The professor posted the notes covered in class for the students.

 2.  Dangling Modifiers

  • occur with -ing modifiers
  • Modifiers dangle when they are not logically connected to the main part of the sentence.
    • State the subject right after the dangling modifier, or
    • Add the subject to the dangling phrase.

 

 Misplaced

Walking through the park, the grass tickled my feet.

The Problem:

“Walking through the park” seems to modify the grass. However, The grass cannot walk through the park. Therefore, this is a misplaced modifier.

Rehabilitated:

The grass tickled my feet as I walked through the park.
Walking through the park, I found that the grass tickled my feet.