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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Criminal Sentence 287: Two Misplaced Modifiers

Two lovely sentences from the same book:

1) "Mr. Sanders has friends in the building he was visiting that night."
2) "I went to the files in the corner of my office that Detective Carruthers had given me..."

Both of these have the same problem: misplaced modifier.

1) Was he visiting the friends or the building? Not the building, as suggested here. Friends. "That night, Mr. Sanders was visiting friends in the building."
2) Did the detective give me the files or the office? Not the office, as suggested here. Files. "I went to the corner of my office to get the files that Detective C had given me..."

If you have two nouns that a clause could modify, be sure you put the modifying clause next to the right noun.

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