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A to Z Writing: Misplaced Modifiers Make Mayhem or Mirth

When it comes to writing well, mechanics matter. Language can be loony, and a misplaced modifier may make us merry or even mad.

Positioning counts plenty, particularly with adjectives and adverbs in sentences. Used correctly, these descriptive words add clarity. Added indiscriminately, however, they can make mayhem.

Consider these 10 examples of misplaced modifiers.
  • Martin tucked his leftover steak away for his Great Dane in his pocket.
  • The accountant watched a bird fly by while doing his tax report.
  • Susie bought a horse for her brother named Studly.
  • Cleaning the hotel room, the maid found an electric man’s watch.
  • Two gang members were reported shot by the city police last night.
  • Jake overheard his fraternity brothers were going to throw a birthday party for him while he was in the bathroom stall.
  • Andy tossed his tattered jacket in the garbage can that he wouldn’t wear anymore.
  • The health teacher gave a lecture to the children on dangerous drugs.
  • Drowning in hot fudge, Katy devoured the ice cream sundae.
  • The cowboy led his horse across the barnyard in clinking spurs.
Clearly, location is everything, even within sentences.

Related Items:
Laughing Child by Ferdinand Reus
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons
2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge logo
Fair Use

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  1. When I began writing, I used to do this all the time! Where was I when this was taught in school?

  2. Location is everything. :) Thank goodness crit partners or editors often catch those. I'm getting better at catching my own now, too. Great meeting you. :)

  3. Good stuff. This is why proofreading is one of the most important things you can do.

  4. Misplaced modifiers always crack me up! I'm still guilty of them myself sometimes when I get rushed or tired. That's why I proofread and edit my writing each and every time before I submit.


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