I was flattered when I was asked to be a guest blogger for 8 Women Dream.
I just finished writing my second grammar book…and grammar, well, it can be a tough thing to write about.
In the English language, words are assumed to belong with the words they are written next to.
When words are put in the wrong place, the writing may be difficult to understand, or it might even be unintentionally ridiculous.
This grammatical error is sometimes known as the “dangling participle,” or just the “misplaced modifier.”
Let’s look at some grammatical error examples.
1. Here is one I like to show to my students:
“While still in diapers, my mother remarried.”
Well, you might just skip by it, whether you have written it or are reading it….and assume it means what it should….but it doesn’t. The way it is written says that my mother was still in diapers when she remarried.
Probably not what the writer meant?? Since “my mother” comes right after the participial phrase “while still in diapers,” it is assumed that they go together. There are usually many ways to fix a sentence. Here is the most logical fix:
“While I was still in diapers, my mother remarried.”
2. Here is another one:
“The girl walked her dog wearing a bikini.”
Once again, you might go right by this one and not notice that anything is amiss. However, since the phrase (participial again) “wearing a bikini” comes right after dog, it really means that the dog is wearing a bikini.
Now, even my Chihuahua doesn’t wear a bikini! Here’s a possible fix (there are many):
“Wearing a bikini, the girl walked her dog.”
3. Here is one that is hard to pick out, but it may actually make the meaning of the sentence confusing:
“The audience members congratulated him on his speech at the end of the meeting and promised their support.”
Have you found the problem? You really cannot tell what it was that happened at the end of the meeting. In all likelihood, the audience members congratulated him at the end of the meeting. However, the sentence says that his speech was at the end of the meeting.
4. Let’s check this one out….
“For sale: Large desk suitable for a writer with thick legs and large drawers.”
Yup, this one usually gets a laugh! It should read
“For sale: Large desk with thick legs and large drawers suitable for a writer.”
So, be careful when you write because you don’t want to make them laugh—unless you are trying to!
And grammar becomes very important when you are trying to make it into the top 100 blogs in the world.
Arlene Miller is the author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! Her new grammar book, Correct Me If I’m Wrong, will be out in September 2012. She is very proud to announce that three middle schools and one college are now using the book (with many more to come, she hopes). She has a degree in Journalism, a master’s degree in Humanities, and a teaching credential. Originally from Boston (Bahston), she has two young adult children, no Boston accent, and lives just a bit north of the Golden Gate Bridge in California. In her former life (until about 9 years ago), she was also a tap dancer. Check out her website at www.bigwords101.com.