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Misplaced Modifiers


A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that changes, clarifies, or describes another word in a sentence. When a modifier is far away from the word it is meant to alter, your sentence can be hard to understand.


Modifying with Adjectives and Adverbs
Tracing dance history is uniquely challenging because of dance's ephemeral nature.

Modifying with Phrases 
An extremely beautiful choreography was performed in an old theatre.

Modifying with Clauses
The dancer who wrote the choreography performed it after she had finished explaining its meaning.



Misplaced Modifiers

A misplaced modifier is too far away from the word it is modifying. 


❌ The participants signed forms after they were briefed on their rights indicating full consent.

  • The placement of the phrase indicating full consent looks like it is modifying the word rights, but this does not make sense.

✔️ The participants signed forms indicating full consent after they were briefed on their rights. 

  • The forms are now what is indicating full consent because the modifier is placed beside that noun.

✔️ Indicating full consent, the participants signed forms after they were briefed on their rights. 

  • In this version of the sentence, the participants are the ones indicating full consent because the modifier is placed directly in front of this noun. 

Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier is trying to describe a word that isn't even in the same sentence as the modifier itself.


To test the hypothesisparticipants were grouped by age.

  • The participants are not the ones testing the hypothesis, but the positioning of the modifying phrase suggests that they are. We need to put the ones who are actually doing the testing into the sentence

✔️To test the hypothesis, researchers grouped participants by age. 

Measuring carefully, salt was added.

  • Salt is the subject after the modifier here, but salt cannot measure carefully. This sentence needs the actual actor to be in the subject position closest to the modifier to make sense. 

✔️Measuring carefully, I added salt. 

  • Now the one doing to measuring is being modified. 

✔️Salt was carefully measured and added.

  • This sentence conveys the same meaning while avoiding both a dangling modifier and the first person.

Squinting Modifiers

A squinting modifier is ambiguous because it could possibly modify the phrase that comes before it or one that comes after it.


❌Running on a treadmill consistently develops cardiovascular fitness.

  • Is it consistent running on a treadmill or consistent development? The placement of the modifier makes it unclear.

✔️Running on a treadmill develops cardiovascular fitness consistently.

✔️Consistently running on a treadmill develops cardiovascular fitness.