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A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is mistakenly separated from the word it is supposed to describe. As a result, the sentence is awkward, confusing, illogical, and sometimes humorous.
A misplaced modifier can be corrected by moving the modifier to a more sensible place in the sentence, usually next to the word it describes.
1. Misplaced: Mary almost read every book in the library. (This means she contemplated reading every book but didn't.)
Correct: Mary read almost every book in the library. (This means she read most, but not all, of the books.)
2. Misplaced: Fred kept a black book of all the girls he had dated in his desk. (This means that Fred dated girls while in his desk.)
Correct: Fred kept in his desk a black book of all the girls he had dated. (This means Fred kept the black book in his desk.)
3. Misplaced: I showed my dog to the veterinarian with the fleas. (This means the veterinarian has fleas.)
Correct: I showed my dog with the fleas to the veterinarian. (This means the dog has fleas.)
4. Misplaced: The fans were told at midnight the concert would begin. (This means the announcement came at midnight. The start time of the concert is ambiguous.)
Correct: The fans were told the concert would begin at midnight. (This means the concert would start at midnight.)
5. Misplaced: Jane only ate bread for dinner. (This means that all Jane did with the bread was eat it; she did not knead the dough or bake it in the oven.)
Correct: Jane ate only bread for dinner. (This means Jane ate bread for dinner and nothing else.)