Writing for Business

May 8 2012   2:02PM GMT

Don’t leave your modifiers hanging

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

What’s wrong with this sentence?

“As a prominent cloud storage provider, security is crucial.”

Ah, the dangling modifier.

It starts out so purposeful but gets left hanging in the breeze.

“As a prominent cloud storage provider” is intended to modify something. In this case, it should be a company that provides cloud storage.

The sentence should go something like:

“As a prominent cloud storage provider, we know that security is crucial.” (Possibly as a lead in to a PR message in the wake of a data breach, but let’s not get sidetracked.)  Really, if your company can’t even properly identify the business in a sentence, should customers trust you with their data?

The dangling modifier is related to the misplaced modifier, in which case the modifier and the thing it modifies are both present but not properly arranged. (@GrammarGirl Mignon Fogarty explains misplaced and dangling modifiers at greater length.)

Misplaced modifiers are one of my favorite types of errors, because they lead to fun sentences like “The code needs to be rewritten badly.

Funny, right? I still crack up remembering my grade five teacher explaining misplaced modifiers with the sentence “I went out to chase the dog wearing my pajamas.”

See, grammar can be fun!

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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