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.
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 participants signed forms indicating full consent after they were briefed on their rights.
✔️ Indicating full consent, the participants signed forms after they were briefed on their rights.
A dangling modifier is trying to describe a word that isn't even in the same sentence as the modifier itself.
❌To test the hypothesis, participants were grouped by age.
✔️To test the hypothesis, researchers grouped participants by age.
❌Measuring carefully, salt was added.
✔️Measuring carefully, I added salt.
✔️Salt was carefully measured and added.
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.
✔️Running on a treadmill develops cardiovascular fitness consistently.
✔️Consistently running on a treadmill develops cardiovascular fitness.