What is a Misplaced Modifier?

A modifier is another word for an adverb. An adverb is used to answer a question about the verb. When inserting an adverb, be sure to place it in the correct position so that your sentence makes sense. If the adverb or adverbial phrase is not correctly placed, the sentence meaning becomes skewed. Be sure to read over the sentence after it’s written to ensure quality.

Misplaced Modifiers

Misplaced modifiers can be very confusing, and they can distort the accurate meaning of your sentence. Let’s look at this example up here on the board. “The teacher said that eating fruit is good for you in class.” This is a case of a misplaced modifier. Another word for an adverb is a modifier.

I’m going to write up here on the board “adverb = modifier.” A modifier is the same thing as an adverb. When we’re saying “a misplaced modifier”, we’re actually saying “misplaced adverb”. You’re looking at this sentence thinking, “Where’s the adverb?” “In class” collectively is the adverb. This is what you call an adverbial phrase. It’s a group of words that collectively takes the form of an adverb or collectively does the job of an adverb.

Adverbs often answer a question. In this case, the question is “where”? The teacher said that eating fruit is good for you. Where did the teacher say that? They said “in class”. “In class” answers the question “where”. It’s an adverbial phrase. Now, the reason this is a misplaced adverbial phrase is because it appears to the reader that this phrase is modifying “eating fruit is good for you”. It appears to the reader that the teacher is saying that to eat fruit and class is good. It looks like the teacher is in favor of the students eating fruit while in the classroom. That’s not actually the case. The teacher is merely saying that eating fruit is good for you, but not while you were in class.

The better way to write the sentence would be: “The teacher said in class that eating fruit is good for you.” In this case, “in class” is still the adverbial phrase, but since it’s closer to what it’s modifying, it makes more sense. Whenever you are writing, make sure that you put the adverb or that adverb clause or the adverbial phrase, whatever word or group of words that’s modifying something in a sentence, very close to what is modified. Make sure the modifier is close to the modifier. Right here, “in class” is the modifier, but it’s modifying the verb “said”. Look how far away it is from the verb “said”.

All these words are in between it and the word it’s modifying, but when you put the adverb right next to the word that it’s modifying, it makes it so much simpler for the reader to understand. Now the sentence can be read correctly and understood correctly. “The teacher said in class that eating fruit is good for you.” Remember, when you’re writing, make sure that you don’t misplace the modifier.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: June 23, 2022