Modifying Phrases Exercise (516)

For each pair of sentences below, choose the one in which both the main clause and the phrase that modifies it are correctly positioned and punctuated.

    1.
    In Lebanon for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand.
    In Lebanon, for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand.

    2.
    Prohibition, not any particular substance, is the problem.
    Prohibition is the problem, not any particular substance.

    3.
    She certainly is one of, if not the, most respected members of the Senate on national security issues.
    She certainly is one of the most respected members of the Senate, if not the most respected, on national security issues.

    4.
    That’s why in order to fully revitalize a person healing from trauma, motion must be restored to stagnant and restricted tissues and joints.
    That’s why, in order to fully revitalize a person healing from trauma, motion must be restored to stagnant and restricted tissues and joints.

    5.
    A skyscraper catches fire, trapping hundreds of people in the blockbuster disaster movie "The Towering Inferno."
    A skyscraper catches fire, trapping hundreds of people, in the blockbuster disaster movie "The Towering Inferno."

Answers and Explanations

1. In Lebanon, for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand.
Like all modifying interjections, "for example" must be bracketed by a pair of punctuation marks.

2. Prohibition is the problem, not any particular substance.
In the first version of the sentence, the noun that "is the problem" is intended to refer to is not clear. For clarity, it should immediately follow the noun it refers to, as shown in the second choice.

3. She certainly is one of the most respected members of the Senate, if not the most respected, on national security issues.
The words "if not the" make no sense in isolation, and if they are omitted, the sentence reads, "She certainly is one of most respected members . . . ." Therefore, the correct form is to interject the phrase "if not the most respected" into the revised main clause.

4. That’s why, in order to fully revitalize a person healing from trauma, motion must be restored to stagnant and restricted tissues and joints.
The phrase "in order to fully revitalize a person healing from trauma" is a modifying phrase interjected into the sentence that would otherwise begin "That’s why motion must be . . . ." The phrase must therefore be both preceded and followed by a comma.

5. A skyscraper catches fire, trapping hundreds of people, in the blockbuster disaster movie "The Towering Inferno."
In the first version of the sentence, the lack of a second comma after the modifying phrase "trapping hundreds of people" creates the impression that hundreds of people were trapped in the movie, rather than in the skyscraper.

Related Articles

Subscribe to our articles and exercises