Writing for Business

Apr 11 2014   3:50PM GMT

Misplaced modifiers: I don’t think that sentence means what you think it means

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

What’s wrong with this sentence?

interrobang The new iPad Air’s Retina display has the same resolution as the previous model, 264 ppi. 

Answer: The meaning is unclear. 


The phrase “264 ppi” is a misplaced modifier. If you’re aware that ppi stands for pixels per inch, you might guess that “264 ppi” is a screen resolution. Otherwise, however, you’re more likely to think that 264 ppi is the name of the previous model, because that phrase immediately precedes it.

Try this, instead: The new iPad Air’s Retina display has the same 264 ppi resolution as that of the previous model.

Writing is communication and clarity should be the first order of business. My advice? Look over every sentence you write and think about potential interpretations. If your meaning is unambiguous, move on. Otherwise, rewrite to make sure that your sentence means what you think it means.

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