How to Avoid Misplaced Modifiers

Learn how to avoid misplaced modifiers from Gotham Writers' Workshop instructor Stephanie Paterik in this Howcast grammar video.

Transcript

Have you ever heard the term misplaced modifier and what that went or if you were guilty of the crime of a misplaced modifier? First, you have to understand what a modifier is. Essentially, a modifier is a word that that describes another word. So, an adverb is one kind of modifier that describes a verb and an adjective is another kind of modifier that describes a noun.

So, in this sentence "The rabbi praying fervently adjusted his robe." We have a modifier, it's fervently and it's an action. The problem in this sentence is that this could be describing one of two actions. It could be describing "adjusted" or it could be describing "praying." So, you can see that it sounds different and the meaning would be different in either case. Is the rabbi praying fervently or is he adjusting his robe fervently? This is what we call a misplaced modifier because the modifier is placed in such a way that the meaning is confusing. Let's clean up this sentence.

So, we can fix this sentence by writing "Praying fervently, the rabbi adjusted his robes." So, now it's clear that our modifier is describing the action of praying and not the action of adjusting. So, I hope that this example helps you avoid a misplaced modifier.

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