It’s like squares and rectangles.

You know: all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

(That’s about the extent of what I remember from higher mathematics classes.)

Similarly, all dangling participles (danglers) are misplaced modifiers, but not all misplaced modifiers are danglers. I’ll provide some examples and links. As I’ve said before, I’m very bad at creating poor writing on purpose; when it goes from my brain to my fingers through the keyboard onto the screen, it’s grammatically correct but not necessarily the cleanest copy on the planet. I have a very difficult time purposely making mistakes like these. (Perhaps I should work on that …) Lucky for me (and you), they’ve been corralled elsewhere. I’ll write a couple of my own, and link to more. Continue reading “It’s like squares and rectangles.”

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?