SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 8: Other Misplaced Modifiers

The Law of Proximity


Any modifier should be as close as possible to the word it modifies.


Of course, there are many other kinds of modifying phrases besides participial phrases, and you should familiarize yourself with them.

Misplaced Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases are modifying phrases. They are sometimes adjectives, which means they modify nouns:

Example:

The dog in the car was barking. (The prepositional phrase answers the question which dog?)

They may also be adverbs, which means they modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs:

Example:

David walked into the pole. (The prepositional phrase answers the question where did David walk?)


Like any modifying phrase, a prepositional phrase can be misplaced.


The prepositional phrase as a physician answers the question what is my role? So it modifies I, not it:

Misplaced Appositives

An appositive is a noun phrase that accompanies and expands another noun, as in

Franklinthe only one of us who owned a car, agreed to drive us all to the game.


An appositive must always be adjacent to the noun it modifies.


Of course, Picasso is not an example of synthetic cubism, so the appositive is dangling.

Misplaced Infinitives

Recall, from Lesson 3, that an infinitive is the basic to_______ form of a verb that usually serves as a noun, as in I love to shop. Infinitives can also serve as adjectives:

Example:

We have a lot more math problems to do. (It answers the question what kind of problems are they?)

They can also serve as adverbs:

Example:

We are working to earn money for the trip. (It answers the question why are we working?)


Because infinitives are often modifiers, they can be misplaced.


To get answers the question why did he take it out? So take should be the closest verb to the phrase. We can rearrange the sentence in a couple of ways to fix this.

Concept Review 8: Other Misplaced Modifiers

Label each underlined phrase as a participial phrase (PART), a prepositional phrase (PREP), an appositive (APP), or an infinitive phrase (INF). Although the SAT will NOT ask you to use these terms to label phrases, this exercise will help you to spot modifier errors more easily.

1. My friend the lawyer told me that I should never sign any contract without first reading it carefully.

2. We should go to the meeting to see whether they need our help with the planning.

3. Despite spraining her ankle, our first mate was able to navigate our schooner into port.

4. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

5. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

6. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

7. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

8. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

9. We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Worksheet 8: Other Misplaced Modifiers

In each of the following sentences, underline and label all participial phrases (PART), prepositional phrases (PREP), appositives (APP), and infinitive phrases (INF), and rewrite any sentence to fix any misplaced modifiers.

1. Without so much as a blink, the gleaming sword was unsheathed by the warrior.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. To maintain good health, physicians suggest that both vigorous exercise and good eating habits are required.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. We found my lost earring walking through the parking lot.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Having run for over 4 hours, the finish line was still 10 miles ahead of her.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Even with a sprained ankle, the coach forced Adam back into the game.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. To find a good restaurant, there are many good online guides to help you.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. In search of a good calculator, not a single store in the mall could help me.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. A dutiful wife and mother, we were surprised to hear Carol complaining about domestic life.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

9. To get a good jump out of the starting blocks, most sprinters say that good body positioning is essential.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Among the most sought-after collectibles on the market, we found the antique toys at a garage sale.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Answer Key 8: Other Misplaced Modifiers

Concept Review 8

1. the lawyer (APP)
without first reading it carefully (PREP)

2. to the meeting (PREP)
to see whether they need our help (INF)
with the planning (PREP)

3. Despite spraining her ankle (PREP containing a PART)
into port (PREP)

4. on this continent (PREP)
conceived in liberty (PART containing a PREP)
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (PART containing a PREP)

5. in a great civil war
(PREP) testing whether that nation … (PART)

6. to dedicate a portion (INF)
of that field (PREP)
for those who here gave their lives (PREP)

7. the living (APP)
to be dedicated here (INF containing a PART)
to the unfinished work (PREP)

8. for us (PREP)
to be here (INF)
dedicated to the great task (PART containing a PREP)
remaining before us (PART containing a PREP)
from these honored dead (PREP)
to that cause (PREP)
for which (PREP)
under God (PREP)
of the people (PREP)
by the people (PREP)
for the people (PREP)

9. the people (APP)
to form a more perfect union (INF)
for the common defense (PREP)
of the United States of America (PREP)


Worksheet 8

Each of these answers provides only one possible correction. On some sentences, other corrections are possible.

1. Without so much as a blink (PREP), the gleaming sword was unsheathed by the warrior (PREP).
Correction: Without so much as a blink, the warrior unsheathed the gleaming sword.

2. To maintain good health (INF), physicians suggest that both vigorous exercise and good eating habits are required.
Correction: Physicians suggest that both vigorous exercise and good eating habits are required to maintain good health.

3. We found my lost earring walking through the parking lot (PART containing a PREP).
Correction: Walking through the parking lot, we found my lost earring.

4. Having run for over 4 hours (PART containing a PREP), the finish line was still 10 miles ahead of her (PREP).
Correction: Although she had run for over 4 hours, the finish line was still 10 miles ahead of her.

5. Even with a sprained ankle (PREP), the coach forced Adam back into the game (PREP).
Correction: Even though Adam had a sprained ankle, the coach forced him back into the game.

6. To find a good restaurant (INF), there are many good online guides to help you (INF).
Correction: There are many good online guides to help you find a good restaurant.

7. In search of a good calculator (PREP), not a single store in the mall (PREP) could help me.
Correction: Not a single store in the mall could help me find a good calculator.

8. A dutiful wife and mother (APP), we were surprised to hear Carol complaining about domestic life (PREP).
Correction: We were surprised to hear Carol, a dutiful wife and mother, complaining about domestic life.

9. To get a good jump (INF) out of the starting blocks (PREP), most sprinters say that good body positioning is essential.
Correction: Most sprinters say that good body positioning is essential for getting a good jump out of the starting blocks.

10. Among the most sought-after collectibles (PREP) on the market (PREP), we found the antique toys at a garage sale (PREP).
Correction: We found the antique toys, which are among the most sought-after collectibles on the market, at a garage sale.