Module 4 - The Case of the Misplaced ModifierSo, what do you think is wrong with saying, "I only write on weekdays"?
Think about it...if you're the one saying that, you know what you want to say, but does your meaning come out right?
Do you mean you write on weekdays only or you don't do anything but write on weekdays, not even eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, or brush your teeth?
Yes, you got it. If you say, "I only write on weekdays," then you're not really saying what you mean to say. That's why it's bad grammar to say it that way. Unless you put the modifier "only" in the right position, no one is going to be sure of your intended meaning.
So instead of saying, "I only write on weekdays," say it this way: "I write only on weekdays." Clearer and less confusing that way, isn't it?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this thing called "modifier," take a look first at these examples:
The three sentences above sound really funny and awkward, don't they? It's because in each instance, the modifier is either misplaced, missing or dangling.
It's highly unlikely that the only thing the publisher knows is when the newspaper will cease publishing; or that the storm was sipping tea and having scones; or that gorillas, while they do belong to the zoo, are likely to go on trips. But these seem to be what the sentences are implying. Why is that? It's because a word or a group of words is in the wrong place, and that the word or group of words describes (or modifies) the wrong thing.
The remedy? Nothing that a little rearranging or adding won't fix.
Now you know that the placement of modifiers can make or break the meaning of your sentences. Misplace your modifiers and you have a very serious problem.
So how do you avoid the modifier problem?
Now that you've learned how modifiers can make or break your writing, why don't you try these exercises?
Flex your writing muscles and correct these humorous bad examples of dangling and misplaced modifiers. You can re-write each sentence more than once. Just make sure your finished sentences are clear.
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