Monday, January 16, 2012

Placement of modifiers (16)

Recently I reserved a hotel room; I received an email confirmation that included this sentence:

As a hotel guest of the xxx Hotel, we would like to offer you discounts to [local attractions].

I thought:

The phrase “As a hotel guest of the xxx Hotel” appears to be a modifier, and therefore probably modifies something that soon follows it. But what soon follows it, “we would like,” does not seem to be or contain the thing modified; for one thing, “we” is plural while “a hotel guest” is singular.

The phrase “a hotel guest”
probably refers to “you” (which means me, the recipient of the email). The phrase “As a hotel guest of the xxx Hotel” probably refers to something I do or will do in my capacity as a guest.

Now I can guess what the writer of the email probably meant to write:

As a guest of the xxx Hotel, you are entitled to discounts at [local attractions].

The Takeaway: Place every modifier carefully. It is bad manners to make your readers work harder to read a sentence than you worked to write it.

See disclaimer.

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