Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers Exercise (560)

Revise each sentence below to reflect correct usage and style.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court charged with protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for over 85 years.
Correct : The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court charged for over 85 years with protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system.

The original sentence reads as if, long ago, the State Bar of California had been given a mandate for an 85-year duration, but no specific time frame was assigned; the figure merely refers to how many years (and counting) the agency has been providing a service. (Better yet, "The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court that has, for over 85 years, protected the public and sought to improve the justice system.")

2.
Original: Looking back at his childhood, his social and emotional problems had taken a marked turn for the worse by the time he was in fourth grade.
Correct : As we look back at his childhood, we see that his social and emotional problems took a marked turn for the worse by the time he was in fourth grade.

A pronoun must be introduced in the opening modifying phrase and repeated at the head of the main clause so that observers, rather than the person’s social and emotional problems, are said to be looking back at his childhood.

3.
Original: Of course there are talented women in technology out there, but biology has made them much more rare, not necessarily discrimination.
Correct : Of course there are talented women in technology out there, but biology, not necessarily discrimination, has made them much more rare.

The phrase "not necessarily discrimination" is belatedly tacked on to the sentence, obscuring its purpose; as a parenthetical positioned in the middle of the statement, immediately adjacent to its counterpoint, its meaning is clear.

4.
Original: As a baby, my parents frequently took me on trips by car.
Correct : When I was a baby, my parents frequently took me along on trips by car.

The original sentence identifies the writer’s parents as a baby. The revision correctly specifies that the writer is recalling experiences that occurred when he was a baby.

5.
Original: Within the insular Ultra-Orthodox community, pictures of women often aren’t shown out of modesty.
Correct : Within the insular Ultra-Orthodox community, out of modesty, pictures of women often aren’t shown.

The original version implies that some reason other than modesty is responsible for the appearance of women in photographs taken within the insular Ultra-Orthodox community. But the statement means that in that community, modesty is the reason for omitting women from photographs. (Better yet, in the context of the article, revise the sentence to "Within the insular Ultra-Orthodox community, to preserve their modesty, women are seldom photographed, and they are often removed from published photos

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