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Misplaced modifiers have been on my radar recently. Maybe it’s because as I’ve been reading through a recent manuscript I found a few of my own. Anyway, as I often do, I went to the internet to research misplaced modifiers and came up with some doozies that I thought I’d share here.

Here’s the latest in fashion for your pets.

The woman walked the dog in purple suede cowboy boots. Wonder if the dog has a matching cowboy hat.

While camping, I saw a bear in my pajamas. As Groucho Marx said, “I don’t know how he got there.” But I think I’d let him have the pajamas

Who knew fruit and veggies led such an exciting life?

banana cartoon2

artwork by Catherine Castle (c)

 

Coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement.

Walking, grocery shopping bananas. Now that’s a trick.

Grocery shopping at Big Star, the lettuce was fresh.

Shopping and hitting on the other customers. Oh, my!

 

Lest we rag only on the veggies, here’s some humans behaving badly, except for Mr. Hannon mentioned below.

The family lawyer will read the will tomorrow at the residence of Mr. Hannon, who died June 19 to accommodate his relatives.

She handed out brownies to the children stored in Tupperware. I guess the Gingerbread House doesn’t work anymore.

With his tail held high, my father led his prize poodle around the arena.

I gave some food to my kitten and chopped it up. Eww!

Mrs. Jones was proud that on her first hunting trip, she was able to shoot several animals as well as her husband. Guess he won’t be taking her hunting again without wearing body armor.

He wore a straw hat on his head, which was obviously too small.

 

 

hat cartoon

artwork by Catherine Castle (c)

 

Freshly painted, Jim left the room to dry. I wonder what color he was.

She carefully studied the Picasso hanging in the art gallery with her friend. So was the friend hanging in the gallery with the Picasso, or were they both hanging in the gallery studying Picasso? I’m so confused.

Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. Now that’s an unusual mode of travel, especially for Lincoln’s day.

My cousin went on and on, describing the details of her wedding in the elevator. Must have been a really small wedding party.

Dressed in a diaper and drooling, grandpa read a book to his granddaughter. ‘Nuff said.

 

We sold lemonade to the thirsty customers in paper cups. Pretty big cups, huh?

cup cartoon

artwork by Catherine Castle (c)

 

 

And here are a few misplaced modifiers that raise animals to new levels.

Flying over the African landscape, the elephant herd looked majestic. It’s Dumbo plus a hundred!

Reading a book, my cat crawled into my lap. Was he reading Puss and Boots?

The guest speaker had dedicated his new book to his dog who was an archaeologist.

Shades of Mr. Peabody and Sherman!

 

Need some help at home? Check out these workers.

I glimpsed a rat sorting the recyclable materials.

While doing the dishes, a mouse ran across the floor.

I found my missing baseball glove cleaning my room.

The smoke alarm went off while cooking my dinner.

 

 

I wouldn’t want to meet these animals on a dark night.

The hunter crouched behind a tree waiting for a bear to come along with a bow and arrow. Guess the bear isn’t registered for conceal and carry.

Driving like a maniac, the deer was hit and killed. It’s bad enough when they cross the road!

Pygmies hunted elephants armed with spears. I wonder what weapons the pygmies had.

 

Or these. Human Zombies have nothing on these guys.

Smashed flat by a passing truck, Big Dog sniffed at what was left of a half-eaten hamburger.

I saw the dead dog driving down the interstate.

 

And here’s my favorite.

After drinking too much, the toilet kept moving. I had no idea toilets could drink, much less move!

 

Now for the grammar lesson.

Modifying clauses, placed in the wrong spots in sentences, can modify the wrong word, leading to some very interesting and often hilarious sentences. To make sure you don’t make these kinds of gaffs, place your modifiers near the word they are modifying.

 

Like so:

Wrong: The model posed gracefully in front of the statue in the designer gown.

Who’s posing in the gown? The model, not the statue. So, move that gown closer to the model like so.

Better: The model, dressed in a designer gown, posed gracefully in front of the statue.

Or: Dressed in a designer gown, the model posed gracefully in front of the statue.

 

Really weird: The burglar was about 30 years old, white, 5′ 10″, with wavy hair weighing about 150 pounds.

That dude’s got some heavy hair, but I suspect that’s not what the writer intended.

Not so weird: The 30-year-old burglar has wavy hair, is 5’ 10”, white male, and weighs about 150 pounds.

Or: The 5’ 10”, 30 year-old white male burglar weighs about 150 pounds, and he has wavy hair.

 

It’s easy peasy when you know the trick.

 

Do you have a favorite misplaced modifier? I’d love to hear it.

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