Grammar Quest--Modifiers


A modifier is a word or group of words describing or modifying the meaning of another word in the sentence.

A misplaced modifier is a modifier that is not close to the word it modifies, and as a result it modifies the wrong word.

A dangling modifier is a modifier that has no word in the sentence for it to modify. It is left “dangling” and ends up modifying an unintended word.


Examples of misplaced modifiers:

1. Our mixing bowl set is designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.(What/who has the "round bottom"?)

2. Eagerly awaiting her birthday, Mary's presents were all picked up and admired by Mary many times throughout the course of the day. (Were the presents eagerly awaiting, or was Mary?)

3. The two cars were reported stolen by the Riverton police. (This makes it sound like the police stole the cars)

Examples of dangling modifiers:

1. Arriving home after midnight, the house was empty. (Who arrived after midnight?)

2. Sound asleep, the alarm clock was not heard by Abigail. (The alarm clock was sound asleep?)

How to correct misplaced and dangling modifiers:

1. Place every modifier close to the word it modifies

2. If the word meant to be modified is not in the sentence, insert it close to the modifier.

3. Reword or punctuate the sentence so that the intended meaning is clear.

Examples of fixing misplaced or dangling modifiers:

Example 1:

The mixing bowl set was designed to please a cook with a round bottom for efficient beating.

Fixed sentence: To please the cook, the mixing bowl set was designed with a round bottom for efficient beating.


Example 2:

 Eagerly awaiting her birthday, Mary's presents were all picked up and admired by Mary many times throughout the course of the day.

Fixed sentence: 

Eagerly awaiting her birthday, Mary picked up her presents and admired them many times throughout the course of the day.

Example 3:

When dating Steve, the townspeople gossiped about her.

Fixed sentence: While Emily was dating Steve, the townspeople gossiped about her.

Last modified: Wednesday, 31 October 2012, 6:49 PM