A Misplaced Modifier

On July 10, 2016, a 27-year-old man named Seth Conrad Rich,was fatally shot in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Rich was an employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

On May 15 of this year, a private investigator named Rod Wheeler told Fox News that Rich’s death may have been politically motivated. Wheeler has since said there is no evidence for that claim, but conspiracy theories have been swirling nevertheless.

The police report (which you can read here) contains a sentence that has some grammatical interest for us. Here’s the sentence: can you spot the problem?

Upon arriving to the scene the decedent was laying in the Southwest corner of the intersection of W St. and Flagler Pl. NW.

Here’s the problem: the sentence sounds as if the deceased man arrived at the scene – which couldn’t have happened because, sadly, he was already dead. The person who arrived was the officer.

This mistake is called a dangling or misplaced modifier. You can fix it easily by making sure you state who was arriving at the scene:

Upon my arrival at the scene, the decedent was laying in the Southwest corner of the intersection of W St. and Flagler Pl. NW.  BETTER

 

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *