Author Topic: A horribly misplaced modifying phrase in a newspaper editorial  (Read 6010 times)

Joe Carillo

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A horribly misplaced modifying phrase in a newspaper editorial
« on: January 09, 2011, 08:45:29 AM »
This e-mail was sent to me by Oscar Lagman (January 9, 2011):   
   
Hi Joe,

Here is an item for you. In the editorial of today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, there is this line:

“Manila Police District PO3 Antonio Bautista Jr is facing the same rap, for violating a woman arrested for vagrancy right inside the police headquarters.”

The way the sentence is constructed, one of the three different acts could have taken place in the police headquarters: the violation of the woman, the arrest of the woman, and the vagrancy. Don’t you think it would have been correct and clearer if the phrase “right inside the police headquarters” were placed after the word “violating”?

I think that early in our correspondence, I wrote that the diagramming exercises drilled into us by our Grade 5 English Grammar teacher, Bro. Felix, taught me where to place dependent clauses and prepositional phrases.

Regards,

Oscar         

My reply to Oscar:

You’re absolutely right about this badly constructed sentence:

“Manila Police District PO3 Antonio Bautista Jr is facing the same rap, for violating a woman arrested for vagrancy right inside the police headquarters.”

It has horribly misplaced the modifying phrase “right inside the police headquarters,” making the victim of the alleged rapist-policemen look stupid by making it appear that she had committed vagrancy right inside the police headquarters. If that’s the case, some wags would say, she deserved her sordid fate in the hands of that police officer.

But we know that this isn’t the case at all. Evidently, it was the violation of the woman that took place inside the police headquarters, not her arrest for vagrancy—which, of course, must have taken place elsewhere. This is why the following suggested sentence construction of yours looks much more consonant with the circumstances of the case:

“Manila Police District PO3 Antonio Bautista Jr is facing the same rap for violating right inside the police headquarters a woman arrested for vagrancy.”

The general rule about modifying phrases is, of course, this: position them as near as possible to the word, phrase, or clause they modify. In this case, the modifier is the adverbial phrase “right inside the police headquarters” and it modifies the verb “violating.”
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 03:10:52 PM by Joe Carillo »

LarryHeart

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Re: A horribly misplaced modifying phrase in a newspaper editorial
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2011, 11:09:20 PM »
I also find lots of mistakes ans even misspellings in a newspper.
It seems to me that Indian writers are a kind of mafia.
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cnolrya

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Re: A horribly misplaced modifying phrase in a newspaper editorial
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2011, 08:22:00 PM »
Thanks interesting information+1)
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