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Manage those modifiers!



"Mills was generally a conservative and favored keeping government expenditures in check. But because Mills was from a poor state where many received substandard health care, Goss said Mills wanted to create a government program that would assist the elderly."

"Labeled Obamacare by detractors, repealing the mandate for health coverage was a major part of Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency."

"Because Mills was from a poor state" is why he wanted to create a government program. It's not why Goss said he wanted to create a program. "Repealing the mandate for health coverage" was not labeled Obamacare; the mandate for health coverage was labeled Obamacare. All that's needed for correction in the first case is a comma after "said" or moving the "Goss said" to the end of the sentence, with a comma in front of Goss. In the second case, you'd need to do some rewriting, such as "The mandate for health coverage was labeled Obamacare by detractors. Repealing it was a major part of Mitt Romney's campaign."

These dangling phrases or misplaced modifiers have always been troublesome. I was tempted to say that they're becoming even more common, but then I saw an example in Success With Words that was written by C.S. Forester in the Saturday Evening Post, and both Forester and the Post have been gone for awhile: "A sailor of vast experience, this was by no means the first convoy which he had escorted to Murmansk." "A sailor of vast experience" belongs with "he."


"There is even a 12-step group for people addicted to 12-step groups — which is very Fight Club, but surely only a small step away from one's head disappearing entirely up one's own fundament."

This is from a British newspaper. The use of fundament to mean "anus or buttocks" is probably more common in Britain than America. Fundament can also mean "a base or basic principle; foundation."


I only wear them on Jodhpur Fridays:

Browsing through Garner's Modern American usage, I find that I've always mispronounced a certain word. Fortunately, it's a word I seldom have occasion to pronounce so maybe I haven't embarrassed myself too much.

Anyway, I thought those pants Cecil B. DeMille wore were called jod-furs, but according to Garner and the dictionary, the correct pronunciation is jod-pers. The correct spelling is "jodhpurs." Apparently, I and a lot of other people see that "hp" as "ph" and pronounce it accordingly. The error is common, according to Garner. Jodhpur is a city in India.

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