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.
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