"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.


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.