Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that describe another part of a sentence.
A misplaced modifier is just that: a modifier that’s in the wrong place. It’s too far away, or separated from, the thing it’s meant to be modifying.
Incorrect: Entering the library, a desk was the first thing I noticed.
Correct: Entering the library, I first noticed a desk.
In the first sentence, a desk is what is entering the library when it should be referring to me. There is a simple rule for sentences with a short phrase at the beginning: Whatever the beginning phrase refers to should immediately follow the comma.
Incorrect: They bought a kitten for my brother they call Shadow.
Correct: They bought a kitten they call Shadow for my brother.
In the incorrect sentence, it seems that the brother’s name is Shadow. That’s because the modifier is too far from the word it modifies, which is kitten.
Incorrect: The patient was referred to the physician with stomach pains.
Correct: The patient with stomach pains was referred to the physician.
The incorrect sentence reads as if it is the physician who has stomach pains! What the writer means is that the patient has stomach pains.
Incorrect: Tyler almost found fifty cents under the sofa cushions.
Corrected: Tyler found almost fifty cents under the sofa cushions.
How do you almost find something? Either you find it or you do not. The repaired sentence is much clearer.
A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that provides description.
- Always place modifiers as close as possible to the words they modify. …
- A modifier at the beginning of the sentence must modify the subject of the sentence. …