"Between me and the life there is a mist of words always." (Oscar Wilde)

Word Tip Archived Item

WORD TIP: Misplaced Modifiers

Misplaced modifiers make sentences sound odd or ridiculous. They result in confusion and will usually leave your readers remembering the unintended chuckle, not the message.

Example:

Running for the bus, his wig flew off.
“Running for the bus” is an adjectival phrase, not a complete sentence. It’s supposed to modify a noun; but the only noun available is the word “wig”. I think we are safe in assuming you did not mean that the wig was running for the bus!

Tip: Ensure adjectival phrases always modify the appropriate noun.
Beware the misplaced modifier. Its use may cause the reader to misplace confidence in your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.