Misplaced Modifiers

This is a common problem in American speech. Writing has to be more precise than speaking, or it will be misunderstood.

A misplaced modifier is simply a word or phrase describing something but not placed near enough the word it is supposed to modify. The modifying word or phrase is not dangling; no extra words are needed; the modifier is just in the wrong place.

Incorrect: I had to take down the shutters painting the house yesterday.

It sounds like the shutters painted the house! Place the modifying phrase painting the house near or next to the word it is meant to modify.

Correct: Painting the house yesterday, I had to take down the shutters.

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