October 22nd, 2012 .

Oops

Pat Morden

Recently I came across a classic “misplaced modifier.” The sentence read:

“After years of explosive growth, John Doe moved back to Brazil in 2011 to head up his company’s Latin America division.”

Poor John. I’m sure he was a very fit man of modest appetites. The explosive growth refers to Brazil, of course, not John.

Generally a modifying phrase is placed close in the sentence to the noun it modifies. When a modifier is placed close to the wrong noun, confusion (and often hilarity) results.

But you know what I hate most about this example? I found it in an article I had written! The lesson: we all make mistakes, and I make more than most. That’s why it’s so important to look at your own work critically and whenever possible, have someone else read it through.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>