Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
- 7 Tips to Write Great Essays - January 5, 2018
- How to Eliminate Abstract Nouns - January 3, 2018
- 3 Important Differences Between Academic versus Technical Writing - January 1, 2018
© Ugur Akinci
Just like in life, positioning is important in writing as well.
Place the wrong modifier in the wrong spot, and the meaning of your whole sentence changes and you end up creating the wrong impression for no good reason at all.
Sometimes even professional writers writing for important publications fall into this trap.
Here is a sentence published in The Seattle Times, the winner of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize, on August 23, 2012:
“Microsoft, which has used its solid, boldfaced, italicized logo since 1987, is expected to unveil its new, more colorful logo Thursday at the Boston opening of the 23rd Microsoft store.”
This sentence is correct if Microsoft had only 22 stores so far and they were opening their 23rd store in Boston.
But I doubt it.
Assuming that Microsoft had opened more than 22 stores in the past (in USA? in the world?), I’m assuming the writer is actually talking about the 23rd store IN Boston.
If that is the case, the corrected sentence should read:
“Microsoft, which has used its solid, boldfaced, italicized logo since 1987, is expected to unveil its new, more colorful logo Thursday at the opening of its 23rd Microsoft store in Boston.”
Here the phrase “in Boston” modifies the compound noun “23rd Microsoft store.” That’s why it should come AFTER the noun and not before it. Placing it before is a case of “misplaced modifier” that you should strive to avoid in your own writing.