Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers
Modifiers (words or groups of words that describe, limit, explain, or illustrate another word) should be placed as closely as possible to the words they modify, to avoid confusion.
- Misplaced modifiers occur when the modifiers are not placed closely enough to the words they modify:
- Sara took belly-dancing lessons to improve her figure at the community center. (More likely she took the lessons at the community center, and wanted to improve her figure for all situations: Sara took belly-dancing lessons at the community center to improve her figure.)
Note: in placing modifiers, avoid placing lengthy modifiers between a subject and verb, a verb and its complement, and within a verb phrase: NOT: He discovered he had been, by all his teachers in his major, given failing grades. Instead: He discovered he had been given failing grades by all his teachers.
- Dangling modifiers occur when there are no words in the sentences which grammatically are being modified:
- Walking through the supermarket, the oranges looked tempting. (Surely the oranges are not walking through the supermarket.)