Who did what, now?

Misplaced modifiers. The bane of writers and editors everywhere, from what I can tell.

“Even though he had practiced the trick for months, the rope failed at the last moment.”

Um . . . not quite. The rope hadn’t practiced (obviously, or it wouldn’t have failed, would it?). The fellow performing the rope trick had practiced, apparently to no avail. This is a misplaced modifier. More often than not in my experience fixing one of these requires rewording at least the latter part of the sentence. Here’s how I chose to fix this instance:

“Even though he had practiced the trick for months, he was unprepared for the rope to fail at the last moment.”

 

When that rope fails, who'll fall over?
When that rope fails, who’ll fall over?

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