Watch where you put those modifiers!

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Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Why do you write blog posts, letters, and emails? To communicate your thoughts, of course!

In order to communicate well in writing, the goal is to have your thoughts flow effortlessly from your mind, through your fingers, out to your copy, and from there to your reader’s brains, where they will be clearly understood.

That’s why I nag a lot about using the correct words and spelling. When there’s an incorrect don't place stop signs in your copyword, it causes the reader to stop and look twice, so you’ve lost that flow.

All of a sudden, they’re looking at the words instead of absorbing the thoughts behind those words.

Misplaced modifiers can have the same “stop sign” effect on your readers.

So far today I’ve come across two examples that made me stop and re-read the sentence in order to understand the meaning. One was in a book, the other in a news article.

  •          I decided to stop by the cafe on the way to the office for some eggs and coffee.
  •          …revealed she had an abortion Thursday in a New York Times op-ed …

Wait – he was going to the office for eggs and coffee, but he stopped at a café on the way? That makes no sense, but it’s what the sentence said.

And really, did this woman have an abortion on Thursday? Did she have it in an op-ed? No, she had it years ago, but revealed it on Thursday in an op-ed. But that’s not what the reporter wrote.

Some slight re-writes would have made these sentences make sense.

Be careful. Write what you mean.

When you tuck those modifiers in just any old place, it can change the entire meaning of your sentence. Worse, it can confuse your readers and cause them to focus on your words and your sentence structure instead of the message you wanted to convey.

Take the time to proofread your work - looking not just for typos and misspellings, but for sentences that could confuse your reader.

 

 

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Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Barbara Todaro One thing we don't want to do is distract readers from the point we were trying to convey. But we do it sometimes.

Lottie Kendall I didn't see that one, but I'll agree. It bothers me to see an apostrophe used in a word that is meant to be a plural.

Jun 16, 2019 10:11 AM #17
Rainmaker
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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Carol Williams It definitely does. Sometimes it's just goofy, so you have to think about the meaning. Other times it can be downright funny, so you have to stop and laugh.

Michael Jacobs - Don't let mistakes stop you. Just correct them and keep on writing.

Jun 16, 2019 10:12 AM #18
Ambassador
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Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

You cracked me up with your examples Marte Cliff - really good stuff here! I'm sure I'm guilty of doing this from time to time.

Jun 16, 2019 01:51 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I couldn't make them up, Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886 - really read both of those yesterday morning.

Jun 16, 2019 03:48 PM #20
Rainer
55,561
Leif Price
Spot Color Marketing - Portland, OR
Content Marketing Specialist

Thanks for putting up a smile on the face. It's a good chuckling matter too.

Jun 16, 2019 07:01 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Leif Price - Some of those errors can be pretty funny. They ruin the message, but laughing has benefits!

Jun 16, 2019 08:36 PM #22
Rainmaker
3,799,198
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Marte Cliff ,

I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week. Modifiers do ruin a message and we are all guilty. I love your examples!

Jun 17, 2019 05:52 AM #23
Rainmaker
3,111,121
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Congrats on the feature by Kathy this week!  Terrific post!

Jun 17, 2019 07:08 AM #24
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR - those two examples really jumped out at me the other morning.

Jun 17, 2019 07:43 AM #25
Rainmaker
1,496,282
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Good morning Marte Cliff, we're all busy and sometimes, don't take the time to read what we are about to post. I know, I'm guilty. Your examples made me chuckle. Have a great week!

Jun 17, 2019 07:52 AM #26
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Beth Atalay I'm becoming more and more careful about proofreading. If it's something going out to a copywriting client, I generally go back over it 4 or 5 times. That means I usually catch misplaced modifiers, but even then, sometimes a typo slips past me.

Jun 17, 2019 08:10 AM #27
Rainmaker
754,401
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

I find my hardest thing is proofreading because I know what I am trying to say so miss what needs modifying as I read it the way I intend it to be.

Jun 17, 2019 08:25 AM #28
Rainmaker
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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 That's the very reason why it's best to get a second set of eyes to read what we write. Second best is to let it rest for a day or so, then come back to proofread.

Jun 17, 2019 08:56 AM #29
Rainmaker
166,402
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

I love your English lessons!!  I feel I am in high school getting rapped on my knuckles!!  Thanks, Marte!

Jun 17, 2019 09:52 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I'm sorry John Henry - I don't want to make you feel that way.

Jun 17, 2019 10:11 AM #31
Rainmaker
1,225,040
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Call me neurotic, Marte Cliff ... but I read, then re-read and re-read my posts before hitting that post button.  With mortgage info, it needs to be crystal clear.  You remind me that my emails and texts (and comments) should reap the same scrutiny ... thank you!

Gene

Jun 17, 2019 10:22 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

And you do a fine job of making mortgage information clear, Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi. I appreciate it, as I'm sure others do. 

Jun 17, 2019 10:30 AM #33
Rainmaker
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Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Southlake, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

These are tough and necessary lessons to learn and we should never stop learning and correcting our mistakes. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Jun 17, 2019 07:03 PM #34
Ambassador
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Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Too often we are in a hurry to express ourselves-then we do it poorly.

Jun 19, 2019 02:19 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,532,157
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP As long as we keep learning and correcting our mistakes, we'll keep moving forward - getting better and better every day. I like that idea.

Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900! Haste really is the enemy of good written communication. Most of us do need to slow down.

Jun 19, 2019 02:51 PM #36
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