Modifiers, Parallel Structures, False Predicates

Modifiers

  • Modifiers are describing phrases or clauses which support or tell more about your idea. Therefore, they have to be placed next to what they modify.
  • Misplaced Modifers:
    • Ex: The man was walking his dog wearing a black hat. (Hopefully, it is the man, not the dog, wearing the hat. Therefore the modifying phrase should be next to man.)
    • The man wearing a black hat was walking his dog.
    • Ex: Tom moved the table to the middle of the room with a broken leg.
    • The modifying phrase should be next to table to make it clear that neither Tom nor the room had the broken leg.
  • Dangling modifiers are those which have nothing to "hang" on to; this is, there is no word or phrase in the sentence for them to modify.
    • Ex: Pushing open the door, the rug became rumpled. (The modifying phrase does not modify anything in the sentence. The writer needs to state who is doing the pushing.)
    • After I began pushing open the door, the rug became rumpled.

Faulty Parallelism

  • Parallelism is the use of like grammatical structures in a sentence to maintain rhythm and balance.
    • We enjoy swimming, skiing, and skating. (The three -ing phrases are used together.) It would be incorrect and "sound wrong" to write: We like to swim, skiing, and to skate.
  • Faulty: He liked being a winner and to be a captain of the team.
    • Correct: He liked being a winner and being the captain of the team.
    • or: He liked being a winner and the captain of the team. (two noun phrases)

False Predicates

  • False predicates are actually a logic problem; the subject doesn't fit logically with the predicate.
    • Ex: Financial aid is a problem. (Financial aid is the subject and is a problem is the predicate. But logically, financial aid is NOT a problem. Finding aid or applying for aid is the logical subject.)
  • Note: The most common false predicates occur with the "is when" and "is where" constructions.
    • Ex: An example is when the main character loses his courage. An example is a thing, not a time. The sentence should read: An example occurs when the main character loses his courage.