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Modifier Placement

Modifiers are words that limit certain aspects of a sentence. Some modifiers— such as only, just, nearly, and barely—can easily end up in the wrong place in a sentence. Compare, "He only threw the ball ten feet," with "He threw the ball only ten feet." The best rule is to place these modifiers immediately before the word they modify. When a modifier improperly modifies something, it is called a dangling modifier. One common example is starting a sentence with a prepositional phrase.

If you have a sentence where a participial phrase is followed by an expletive construction, you will often have a dangling participle. For example, "Cleaning the windows every six months, there is a simple way to keep a building looking better." This example could be rewritten as, "If you clean the windows every six months, you can keep a building looking better."


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