We see dangling and misplaced modifiers quite a lot in novels. Read on to discover how to recognize and fix dangling and misplaced modifiers.
A dangling modifier happens when you put a descriptive phrase next to a word that it doesn’t describe. This usage is incorrect because modifiers should be next to the word they describe, and doing otherwise causes people to misread the sentence.
Correct: She ran as fast as she could, the cape flapping in the wind behind her.
Correct: The cape flapped in the wind behind her as she ran as fast as she could.
Incorrect: Running as fast as she could, the cape flapped in the wind behind her.
The cape is not running, so “running as fast as she could” is a dangling modifier. It is dangling at the beginning of the sentence without the noun it’s modifying.
Fixing a dangling modifier does require slightly rewriting the sentence, but doing so is generally easy.
A misplaced modifier happens when you put a single-word modifier next to a word it doesn’t modify.
Correct: I slowly ate the bowl of cold cereal.
Incorrect: I slowly ate the cold bowl of cereal. (Unless you stuck the bowl in the fridge and want to point out that the bowl itself is cold.)
Putting a modifier in the wrong place can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
I stared only at the clown. (You stared at the clown and nothing else.)
I only stared at the clown. (You stared at the clown but didn’t do anything else to him, such as chase him, hug him, etc.)
A misplaced modifier is fixed by simply moving the modifier to be next to the word it’s modifying.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions on how to fix dangling and misplaced modifiers.
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