Careless placement of modifiers is a frequent cause of unclear or embarrassing writing. Here’s an example of the careless placement of a modifier:
“A Pembroke man has been charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder following a two-month investigation by the state police.” Full story
The reader can’t believe that the writer wanted the phrase “following a two-month investigation” to modify “commit” or “solicitation.” The reader assumes that the writer wanted the phrase to modify “charged,” even though he has placed the phrase closer to “commit” and “solicitation” than to “charged.”
The sentence probably should have been:
Following a two-month investigation by the state police, a Pembroke man has been charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder.
The Takeaway: Place every modifier as close as possible to what it modifies. Don’t make your reader work harder to read a sentence than you worked to write it.