Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grammar goof: misplaced modifiers

I laughed out loud when I read a local radio station’s online news email:

“Walker was charged with burglary, trespass, and other charges in connection with Walker breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and videotaping an intimate moment she was having with his cell phone camera.”

My, that must be some cell phone camera! The technology these days . . .

Correcting the goof:

It has to do with the placement of modifiers. A modifier is a word or phrase that describes, or modifies, another word. A modifier that describes, or modifies, a noun is an adjective; a modifier that describes or modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb is an adverb.

Modifiers can be single words or phrases, but they should be placed next to the word they modify. When they aren’t, they are called misplaced modifiers, and can create some pretty hilarious sentences.

In the above gaffe, “with his cell phone camera” is meant to modify the verb “videotaping.” In other words, he was charged with using his cell phone to videotape an intimate moment his girlfriend was having. Placing the phrase at the end of the sentence, next to the verb “having,” makes it modify “having.” You get the gist.

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