TOEFL iTP | Grammar | Items Involving Misplaced Modifiers

A misplaced modifier is a participial phrase or other modifier that comes before the subject, but does not refer to the subject.

Look at this sentence:

  • Driving down the road, a herd of sheep suddenly crossed the road in front of Liza’s car. (INCORRECT)

This sentence is incorrect because it seems to say that a herd of sheep — rather than Liza — was driving down the road. The participial phrase is misplaced. The sentence could be corrected as shown:

  • As Liza was driving down the road, a herd of sheep suddenly crossed the road in front of her. (CORRECT)

This sentence now correctly has Liza in the driver’s seat instead of the sheep.

So, with that being said, the following sentence structures in the table down below are often misplaced.

Misplaced StructureExampleCorrection
Present ParticipleWalking along the beach, the ship was spotted by the men. Walking along the beach, the men spotted the ship
Past ParticipleBased on this study, the scientist could make several
conclusions.
Based on this study, several conclusions could be made
by the scientist.
AppositiveA resort city in Arkansas, the population of Hot Springs
is about 35,000.
A resort city in Arkansas, Hot Springs has a
population of about 35,000.
Reduced Adjective
Clause
While peeling onions, his eyes began to water.While he was peeling onions, his eyes began to water.
Adjective PhrasesWarm and mild, everyone enjoys the climate of the
Virgin Islands.
Everyone enjoys the warm, mild climate of the Virgin
Islands.
Expressions with like
or unlike
Like most cities, parking is a problem in San Francisco.Like most cities, San Francisco has a parking problem.
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