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Monday, December 29, 2008

Poll Results 16

This was the question:

Does this sentence make you laugh? "She had once hosted a show about her exploits on Court TV."

I myself laughed when I read this in a bestselling author's latest book, but a quarter of you weren't sure what the problem is. Since you are reading my blog, and since you know I hate misplaced modifiers, you should be able to guess that this is what's wrong. The phrase "on Court TV" is misplaced. It is right next to "her exploits" but it goes with "hosted." So this sentence is talking about her exploits on Court TV instead of the fact that she hosted a show on Court TV. That might be an interesting show: a show about exploits.

The sentence would be better like this:

She had once hosted a Court TV show about her exploits.


Jenifer said...

Without context, the sentence isn't really wrong. I was one of the no votes, and I thought it was probable that the show she hosted was on Court TV, but it could also have been a show about her exploits, said exploits having occurred on Court TV, so it's only funny when you know the context.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Context is important, but the sentence is still wrong. This was the second sentence in a paragraph. The first was "There was no doubt she was a celebrity gun for hire."

Jenifer said...

Because the meaning is unclear, the sentence should definitely be re-written, but I'm still having trouble with saying it's wrong out of context.

If the intended meaning had been:

She had once hosted a show about her Court TV exploits.

then isn't the sentence correct as originally written?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

If the exploits were on Court TV and the show wasn't on Court TV, then "her exploits on Court TV" would be right. Since the show was on Court TV and it was about her exploits as a celebrity gun for hire, however, "Court TV show" would be correct.

Jenifer said...

Thanks for clarifying. That's what I meant. Reading the poll, it was impossible to know where the exploits took place, so it was impossible to know for sure that the sentence was wrong.