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 Sin: Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

Bryce Fan '20

Find Your Voice

What good is having a great idea if you can’t communicate it effectively? We’ll teach you how to express yourself through writing and speaking, of course, but also through digital communications and artistic expression — all of which will help you stand out no matter what path you choose after graduation.

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search