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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Criminal Sentence 16: Another Misplaced Modifier

These are so common that I could put one here every day.

From an article about bike helmets:

"The accident has left the boys' mothers with new concerns about the vast number of kids on wheels they see without helmets."

I object to "wheels they see without helmets." This implies the writer is seeing something but not wearing a helmet. "Without helmets" belongs with "kids." A lot of information is crammed in this sentence, so that's why this misplaced modifier escaped the writer's notice. You need to rewrite the sentence so all the parts fit together correctly:

The accident has left the boys' mothers concerned because they see so many kids who don't wear helmets when they're on wheels.

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