Thursday, March 21, 2013

Placement of modifiers (21)

Careless placement of modifiers is a frequent cause of unclear writing. Here is an example from, surprisingly, The New York Times:

In a story on the resignation of Florida’s Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer Carroll, one sentence stated:

She filmed an advertisement promoting Allied Veterans as a Florida House member.

A better version would have been:

While serving as a Florida House member, she filmed an advertisement promoting Allied Veterans.

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.

See disclaimer.

Thanks to Paul G. Henning for pointing out this example.

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