Misplaced Prose

Misplaced Prose

Sometimes people put sections of their writing in the wrong place in a sentence. That causes the section to refer to the wrong thing.  In the first example, the entire house collapses. In reality, only the roof collapsed:

Wrong Place: When it collapsed from snow load, the house needed a new roof.

Corrected: The house needed a new roof when it collapsed from snow load.

-ing Words

 If a word ending in –ing is near the beginning of a sentence, then there must be the correct act-or after the pause. In the first example, the coffins and not the vampires sense the dawn.

Incorrect –ing: Sensing the approach of dawn, the coffins filled with vampires.

Correct –ing: Sensing the approach of dawn, the vampires entered their coffins.

Incorrect -ing placement can also occur later in a sentence.

Incorrect -ing            Jamanda left home with her dog wheeling the baby stroller.

Correct -ing               Wheeling the baby stroller, Jamanda left home with her dog. 

Incorrectly Placed Adverbs

Words such as merely, usually, often, almost, barely, and only, among others, can change the meaning of a sentence if you place them in the wrong spot. 

Incorrect placement Fred could milk only Bessie.

Correct placement    Only Fred could milk Bessie.

Individual or Small Group Activity

Rewrite the sentences below. All have misplaced prose.

    1. While telling bear attack stories, a bear ran into our camp.
    2. My friend gave a check to a food bank that was overdrawn.
    3. Arguing all the time, the apartment seemed to grow smaller.
    4. Shiela almost fell into a hole and hit her head on a rock far below.
    5. The lamp fell and broke while rushing for the telephone.
    6. Brushing her teeth, the radio was so loud that Jessica did not hear the doorbell.
    7. Peggy entered her St. Bernard into the beauty contest after winning the obedience test.
    8. I inherited these suspenders from my grandfather with gold clasps.
    9. The president was questioned after the speech by a man in a medical mask.
    10. We had a hot breakfast of rice soup.

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete the exercise:     Utah
                                            New Mexico

Optional Activity