Chapter 6-3: Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers
A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is not placed right next to the word that it describes.
In the case of dangling modifiers, it is not clear which word they could modify, if any at all!
There is a certain amount of freedom on where to place modifiers in a sentence:
Authors can improve their writing style by paying attention to basic problems like misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers.
Mistakes related to misplaced modifiers can be potentially humourous. Consider the following sentences:
How to Create Misplaced Modifiers
Not that anyone would want to, but here are some of the more popular methods that people use to unintentionally create misplaced modifiers.
Misplace an Adjective
This problem occurs when the adjective is not right beside the noun it modifies.
Misplace an Entire Phrase or Clause
Misplaced modifiers are not always just misplaced words. They can be entire phrases or clauses within a sentence.
Misplace an Adverb
This problem occurs when an adjective is placed beside a word that it wasn't intended to modify. Sometimes misplacing an adverb can result in a grammatically correct sentence; however, its meaning becomes completely different, ridiculous, or humorous.
Create a Squinting Modifier
A squinting modifier is an ambiguously placed modifier that can modify either the word before it or the word after it. In other words, it is "squinting" in both directions at the same time.
These types of modifiers are said to "dangle" because they're just loosely hanging in a sentence, unconnected to anything. Consider the following sentences:
The dangling modifier generally appears at the beginning of sentences. It can be a phrase that behaves as an adjective but does not modify any specific word in the sentence, or modifies the wrong word. For example:
Dangling modifiers can also appear in the form of an elliptical clause—a dependent clause whose subject and verb are implied rather than declared: