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|Grammar & Punctuation||Grammar|
If you couldn't guess, a modifier is a word or phrase that modifies another word or phrase.
Sometimes, if you're not careful, you can misplace a modifier. A misplaced modifier
is a modifier that modifies the wrong thing. A modifier can be a single word, like "only",
"just", or "almost".
Let's look at a couple of examples. You could say, "Mike ate only venison"...
...or, "Mike only ate venison."
In these examples, the word "only" modifies the word behind it, giving these sentences
completely different meanings. If you say, "Mike ate only venison", what
you mean is that Mike ate nothing but dead deer.
If you say, "Mike only ate venison", however, what you mean is that the only thing Mike
did with the deer meat was eat it. He didn't cook it...
...and he didn't buy it from his local grocer.
You could also use a short phrase at the beginning of a sentence as a modifier. Here's the formula:
short modifying phrase...
...plus the rest of the sentence.
Just remember, whatever the modifying phrase refers to should immediately follow the comma.
Here are some examples. While you could say, "Freshly cooked, Lisa left the venison to
...what you really mean is, "Freshly cooked, the venison was left by Lisa to cool down."
While you might be tempted to say, "Covered in flies, the highway crew pulled the deer
carcass off the road"...
...what you really mean is, "Covered in flies, the deer carcass was pulled off the
road by the highway crew." When it comes to modifiers, the smartest thing
you can do is to pay attention to what you're writing.
You don't want to misplace a modifier...
...any more than you'd want to misplace any leftovers.