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Modifiers and Parallel Structure

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by

Mara Geiger

on 10 April 2012

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Transcript of Modifiers and Parallel Structure


Modifiers and Parallel Structure

Misplaced, Squinting, and Dangling Modifiers
Misplaced Modifiers
What is a misplaced modifer?
Examples of Misplaced Modifiers
A modifier is misplaced when it is positioned in a sentence so that it is unclear what the modifier is supposed to modify.
The result:
the modifier modifies something that the writer hadn't intended
A Famous Misplaced Modifier
What is a modifier?
Modifiers provide description
Many things funtion as modifiers
Adjectives:
Adverbs:
Poor
Beautiful
Funny
Small
Pink
Dark
Handsome
Cold
Soft
Transparent
Advective Phrases or Clauses:
Who just wanted a quick meal
Whom we've known since first grade
That barked all night long
Which opened my car door
Quickly
Somewhere
Gracefully
Happily
Barely
Well
Sluggishly
Poorly
Boldly
Fast
Adverb Phrases or Clauses:
Intentionally
In order to
Frequently
Never
Seldom
After
During
Next
There
Everywhere
Whenever I see a black cat
Where the red fern grows
After he shaved his head
If you save your money
She stole the food so that
Although they paid their bills on time
The room was strewn with filfthy students' gym socks.
The room was strewn with students' filfthy gym socks.
He went to the hospital where he underwent surgery in a limousine.
He went in a limousine to the hospital where he underwent surgury.
The Mad Hatter nearly threw a teacup in my face.
The Mad Hatter threw a teacup that nearly hit my face.
OR
The Mad Hatter nearly threw a teacup in my face but decided not to at the last minute.
Incorrect
Correct
PRACTICE
with misplaced modifiers
Squinting Modifiers
What is a squinting modifier?
Examples of squinting modifiers
Sqinting modifiers are adverbs that are placed at the boundary of two clauses or phrases.
The result:
The adverb can be interpretted to modify two different phrases or clauses at the same time.
Which is it?
The zombies who swallow the antidote quickly lose their desire to consume the living.
Zombies who quickly swallow the antidote
OR
Quickly lose their desire to consume the living
Billy's mom asked him when he finished his
homework to help her take care of the howler monkeys.
Which is it?
Billy's mom asked him for help once he had already finished his homework
OR
Billy's mom asked him for help once he was finished with his homework though he was still working on it
PRACTICE
with squinting modifiers
Dangling Modifiers
PRACTICE
with dangling modifiers
What is a dangling modifier?
Examples of dangling modifiers
Basically, a dangling modifier occurs when a sentence does not contain the word that is being modified.
The result:
In many cases, the subject is missing entirely
Incorrect
Correct
Having drank all the water in the pool, the kids had nowhere to swim.
After Falcor drank all the water in the pool, the kids had nowhere to swim.
While eating ghost peppers, her eyes turned red and fumes came out of her ears.
While she was eating ghost peppers...
The waiter finally served us after sitting at the table for nearly an hour
After we sat at the table for nearly an hour, the waiter finally served us
OR
The waiter finally served us after we sat at the table for nearly an hour
The Movement Test
1. Move the subject of the main sentence to the subject position of the modifier
2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the restored subject
How to check whether or not a modifier is dangling
For example:
Slamming on the breaks, the car skidded into the guardrail.
1. _______ slamming on the breaks, the car skidded into the guardrail.
The car
2. The car ___________ on the breaks, the car slid into the guardrail.
slammed
This makes no sense, therefore "Slamming on the breaks"
is dangling in this example.
Parallel Structure
1. Johnny stepped on a big, juicy bug with bare toes.

2. The baby's crying almost kept me up all night.

3. Over there you'll find the table made by Jesus with
smooth legs.

4. Fido scared the neighbor kids with snarling teeth.

5. I almost waited in line three hours barely to get a copy of the new Twilight book.
Watch out for words like these:

almost, only, just, even, hardly, not, nearly, merely
How to avoid misplacing modifiers:
pay close attention to where modifiers are positioned in a sentence
modifiers usually go right next to the word or phrase they are supposed to modify
1. The senator promised to fight after his election for decreased taxes.

2. Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day quickly increases your risk of lung cancer.

3. I promised myself on New Year's Day I would stick to a healthy diet.

4. When I speak in public nervously I start to stutter.
TIP:
Be observant of an adverb's surroundings. It may not always help to simply reposition the modifier; you may have to reword the sentence altoghether to make your message more clear.
1. Jill's sweater was soaked after walking to the theater in the rain.

2. Pulling back the curtains, sunlight flooded into the room.

3. Driving down Washtenaw yesterday, a velociraptor ran in front of my car.

4. My stomach was upset having eaten too much sauerkraut.

5. To be excused from class, a doctor's note is needed.
Dangling modifiers can be corrected by adding a subject or the thing that is being modified.
For example, "Slamming on the breaks, the car skidded into the guardrail" would become this:
After I slammed
on the breaks, the car skidded into the guardrail.
Let's try the movement test again...
1. Move the subject of the main sentence to the subject position of the modifier
After rotting for weeks, a moldy apple was found in the kitchen cupboard.
After
a moldy apple
rotting for weeks, a moldy apple was found in the kitchen cupboard.
2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the restored subject
After a moldy apple
had been rotting
for weeks, a moldy apple was found in the kitchen cupboard.
The new sentence may be repetative but it makes sense unlike the previous example.
Therefore "After rotting for weeks" is NOT a dangling modifier in the original sentence.
A.K.A. Paralellism
What is parallelism?
Parallelism, or parallel structure in grammar deals with how coordinating conjunctions are used to join two or more elements of the
same
grammatical type.

Elements that can be made parallel using coordinating conjunctions include
words
,
phrases
, and
clauses
.
The trick is that the parallel elements must all be of
exactly the same grammatical category
.

When elements are not of the same category, it is called
faulty parallelism
.

For example:

Ryan likes petting wombats and to knit quilts.
Don't do this!

Ben was
playing
with raptors and
messing
with polar bears.
There are also parallel infinitive phrases:

Ben wanted
to play
with raptors and
to mess
with polar bears.
We can use parallel gerund phrases:
You can use a parallelism stack to help!
Donald loves
to eat
pizza and
to watch
reruns of “Baywatch”
OR
Donald loves
eating
pizza and
watching
reruns of "Baywatch"
The mistakes most commonly occur when there are three or more phrases.
Mickey needed to
go outside,
check the mail, and
to bring
in the paper.
Mickey needed
to go outside,
to check the mail, and
to bring in the paper
Your turn!
http://www.chompchomp.com/structure01/structure01.01.htm
What other phrases should we look out for?
Adjectives/ Adj phrases
Nouns/ Noun phrases
Prepositional phrases
Verb/ phrases
Whole clauses
Full transcript