Avoid Misplaced Modifiers in Your Writing
Thread poster: Marie McCloud

Marie McCloud
United States
Local time: 06:41
English
Dec 17, 2018

Here are my thoughts on misplaced modifiers. What do you all think?

BEFORE:

Poodles are among the most sought after breed of dogs in the world. In fact, this breed is beloved in Singapore, with its high energy and friendliness.

CONSIDER:

Is the writer trying to say that Singapore is a "high energy" and friendly place?

No. The terms "high energy" and "friendliness" are meant to describe the bree
... See more
Here are my thoughts on misplaced modifiers. What do you all think?

BEFORE:

Poodles are among the most sought after breed of dogs in the world. In fact, this breed is beloved in Singapore, with its high energy and friendliness.

CONSIDER:

Is the writer trying to say that Singapore is a "high energy" and friendly place?

No. The terms "high energy" and "friendliness" are meant to describe the breed of dog being discussed.

However, as written, the sentence presented above leaves readers with the impression that Singapore is an energetic and friendly place. This problem is the result of a misplaced modifier.

The terms "high energy" and "friendliness" should be moved closer to the words they modify (breed of dog/poodles).

AFTER:

This breed of dog is energetic and friendly and is beloved in Singapore.

or

Owing to the fact that it is energetic and friendly, this breed of dog is beloved in Singapore.

Consider the example below.

BEFORE:

Comer is regarded as one of the premiere eateries in the city. Best known for its exquisite and tasty appetizers, diners marvel at its dazzling chandeliers and lush interior. Given this, it's not surprising that Comer attracts customers from around the world.

CONSIDER:

Is the writer trying to say that the diners are known for their "exquisite and tasty appetizers"?

No. These words describe the restaurant (Comer).

However, as written, the sentence leaves readers with the impression that diners are known for their exquisite and tasty appetizers. This problem is the result of a misplaced modifier.

The introductory phrase "best known for its exquisite and tasty appetizers" modifies (refers to) the restaurant. Therefore, it should be moved closer to the word it modifies.

AFTER:

Comer is regarded as one of the premiere eateries in the city. Best known for its exquisite and tasty appetizers, the restaurant attracts customers from around the world. Those dining at Comer marvel at its dazzling chandeliers and lush interior.
Collapse


Tom in London
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Endless task Dec 17, 2018

Marie, I feel your pain. I spend my whole life mentally rephrasing badly constructed sentences.

Here's a classic, from an old 1930s poster that used to be on show in a local shop:

DON'T KILL YOUR WIFE WITH HOUSEWORK. LET ELECTRICITY DO IT !



[Edited at 2018-12-17 15:03 GMT]


Thomas T. Frost
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Christine Andersen
Jennifer Forbes
Kay Denney
Joe France
 

Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:41
German to English
+ ...
or Dec 17, 2018

A neighbour told me my dogs were chasing people on bikes. My dogs don’t even own bikes!

Kay Denney
Tom in London
Jessica Noyes
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:41
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I sometimes rearrange my own sentences ... Dec 17, 2018

This is when the passive can be useful.

The neighbour told Cilian that people on bikes were being chased by his dogs.

Everything can be overdone, but I have never understood why the passive is treated as an error by Microsoft's spelling checker.


Dan Lucas
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They creep in so easily Dec 17, 2018

I have to admit I sometimes find them in my own sentences . They seem okay at the time of writing but then they jump out as being unclear or downright illogical on re-reading. Hence the importance of checking your own work as well as your clients' texts.

Christine Andersen
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:41
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Learn a new language Dec 17, 2018

One of the unintended benefits of learning to write Japanese is that I'm relearning certain lessons about clear and unambiguous writing that I've forgotten long ago, or just never had the chance to learn because of the lack of classroom study.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hmmmm Dec 17, 2018

Lincoln Hui wrote:

One of the unintended benefits of learning to write Japanese is that I'm relearning certain lessons about clear and unambiguous writing that I've forgotten long ago, or just never had the chance to learn because of the lack of classroom study.



So you forgot clear and unambiguous writing long ago?




[Edited at 2018-12-17 20:16 GMT]


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Avoid Misplaced Modifiers in Your Writing

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search