I didn’t expect to find GRAMMARGEDDON! fodder this early in my day, nor did I expect to find it in the blog of a typographer/book designer. But, then again, in my experience typographers aren’t editors, usually. So–on with the post.
Dangling modifiers are annoying creatures. They cause the astute reader to stop and ask questions about what’s being said, questions that wouldn’t occur to the reader if that modifier had been corrected by some method or other. Here’s the one that stopped me this morning:
“As a pastor, commercially available Bible studies were just as bad.”
Hm. The pastor is not a study. The pastor is the person who may well purchase books or studies. The sentence would have been better phrased thus: “As a pastor, I found the commercially available Bible studies were just as bad.” “As a pastor” then modifies–correctly–the subject of the sentence.
The blog entry is one I found very interesting, truth to tell. I’m going to bookmark it, so I can return later and read it thoroughly. You see, just because I find a grammatical error that should really have been caught (even by a piece of software, if not a real live person) does not mean I then invalidate the source entirely and proclaim it to be garbage.
Here’s the link, for anyone who wants to know more about “Writing in InDesign.”
7 thoughts on “The pastor is not the study (but he could be in it)”
You caught me. I’m just a writer/designer, not as you discovered, a grammarian. I keep trying to get better—really I do. But it’s an ongoing struggle. My goal is to prosper enough to hire an editor.
What a lovely comment, David! I am happy to find that I didn’t offend, as that was certainly not my intent. I try to teach where I can. I wish you all the best in your endeavors, and perhaps one day our paths will cross again. (I would be happy to work with you if and when that would be possible!)
In my work, I often run across sentences beginning “As a valued customer, we would like to offer you. . .” and and they make my teeth itch. Sadly, a lot of businesses approach customer-facing communications with the idea that if it’s good enough to be understood, then it’s good enough to be sent.
Good grammar is like good manners. It may not be necessary in order to eat, but it makes the experience at the table far more pleasant.
::applauds:: Couldn’t have said that better myself, Torah. Thanks for the comment!
A timely post, Karen, since I just recently ran across this hilarious list of misplaced and dangling modifiers:
Ah, my alma mater UW-Madison! #25 seems most apt for graduates of that institution, though it wasn’t the one that made me laugh the most (#15).
I like #1, 5, and 12 the best.