Misplaced Modifier

Shorthand: “mp”

Avoid misplacing modifiers.

A modifier, as you might suspect, is any phrase, adjective, or adverb, that modifies a word.  Misplacing it results in ambiguity of meaning.

1. During this year, a new organization was founded at our college called the Chess Club.

Is the college called the chess club? No.
For clearer rewrite: A new organization, the chess club, was founded at our college this year.

2. I only saw him yesterday.

Possibly this sentence expresses what you meant; probably it does not.

Consider the differences in meaning of the following sentence.

Only I saw him yesterday.
I only saw him yesterday.
I saw only him yesterday.
I saw him only yesterday.
I saw him yesterday only.

and choose the one that best suits your meaning.

3. He asked me immediately to write the letter.


Clearer: He immediately asked me...; or, He asked me to write the letter immediately.

4. A fine athlete and a good student, her class honored her by electing her president.

Misplaced appositional phrase; her class was not the fine athlete and good student.

Better: Her class honored her, a fine athlete and a good student, by electing her president.

See also Dangling Elements (“da”) in this handbook.

For more information on misplaced modifiers, refer to The Fifth Deadly Sin: Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

Contact Information

Writing Center

Kirner-Johnson 152

Contact Information

Levitt Center

Kirner-Johnson 251
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4451 levitt@hamilton.edu
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