Saturday, July 16, 2016

Misplaced Modifiers

Something I read recently brought modifier placement to mind. A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that describes another word, phrase, or clause. Modifiers should be placed as close as possible to the word modified. Misplaced modifiers, those that are improperly separated from the noun they modify, change the meaning.
Copyright : Andrey Kiselev
I had a bag of apples from our tree in the freezer, so I made a pie. I would hope the tree is outside and not in the freezer, as this says.

She poured a hot cup of coffee. Hot modifies cup, not coffee.

For sale: three used girl’s bicycles. Used modifies girl, so this means the girl is used but the bicycles, which are for sale, could be any age or condition. However, this is such a common mistake that few would notice. It should be three girl's used bicycles. 

Only one had a flat tire, meaning the other two bicycles had good tires. Moving the word only changes the meaning entirely: One had only a flat tire, meaning it had no other tires.

I loaded the bicycle into the van with the flat tire. The van has a flat tire.

Something to think about.