Misplaced modifying clauses.

Writers often err when they begin a sentence with a clause that fails to modify the noun that follows the clause. Several examples involve a poorly or thoughtlessly chosen introductory clause. "According to Smith and Wesson, I performed gross isometric manual muscle testing in a sitting position."

Whether conservative management or post-operative management, shoulder impingements must be rehabilitated precisely and directed by the pathology and the patient's functional goals (Einhorn, 1985)

"During palpation, pain was felt in the LLE."

Is this an example of sympathetic touch?

Even professionals can drown in syntax, and make outrageous, if humorous statements. The Wall Street Journal printed this very bad news for aging athletes who had no idea of the negative social impact of their aquatic workouts:

"Older men produce more deformed sperm, but they swim faster, passing on certain genetic abnormalities, according to a Johns Hopkins study."

The writing wizards at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana offer simple and helpful advice on correctly placing modifers in their online grammar handbook. William Strunk provides posthumous but timeless counsel on preventing the dangling of participles.

Last updated 9-8-2003 ©Dave Thompson
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