ESL Term:

Misplaced Modifier

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.

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misplaced modifier: Participles that modify the wrong word in a sentence.  Usually, this is a result of placing the modifier in the wrong spot. A modifier should usually be next to the word it is referring to.

For example:

       Putting the leash on, the dog bit John.

        The cat in the alley looked at me with a rat trapped under         one claw.

Dogs don't put on their own leashes and I don't catch rats! These should be rewritten:

  When John put the leash on the dog, the dog bit John.

   With a rat trapped under one claw, the cat looked at me.

Another common error with participles is the dangling participle.