When you proofread what you’ve written, you’re probably looking for mis-used or misspelled words, extra words, and typos. But don’t stop there…
Your purpose in proofreading is to remove all the “stop signs” that make readers think about your words, rather than your meaning.
Misplaced modifiers are huge stop signs, and they are all too common. Even professional writers sometimes forget to re-read their work to make sure it makes sense.
Here are examples I found just yesterday:
From an on-line article:
“The Police Department warned individuals to stay out of the area and then informed the public when the suspect was apprehended through social media.”
“The suspected shooter can be could be seen in this video boasting before he did it over social media:”
From those two sentences, the reader would think that the crime was committed over social media, and the suspect was apprehended through social media.
Simple changes would have made the sentences make sense:
“The police department used social media to warn individuals to stay out of the area and to inform them when the suspect was apprehended.”
“The suspected shooter could be seen in this video, boasting over social media before he did it.” (And yes – there was more proof that someone didn’t proofread: “can be could be.”)
From another article:
“Abrams however, has never even won a statewide contest casting doubt on her ability to help pull of a nationwide victory let alone run the White House in Biden’s absence, who is 77-years-old.”
Ugh. Obviously, absence is not 77 years old, but the whole sentence is so full of punctuation and spelling errors that it should just be scrapped. Start over with a better writer!
From a hard-bound novel:
"... a bad portrait swinging in the wind of his majesty."
The wind of his majesty? That’s a bit crude and rude.
The bottom line: Read what you wrote.
Proofread for errors, then read it again to make sure that your modifying words and phrases are placed where they belong.
If you need to re-write the sentence to make it make sense, do it!
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