Modifiers are words or phrases that provide additional detail about a subject, verb or object in a sentence. Modifiers can be words or phrases; for example, the word "pretty" can modify girl, and the phrase "who was smart" can also modify girl. According to grammar rules, modifiers should be placed as close as possible to the person or thing that they are modifying. When a modifier is not placed properly in the sentence, it can create confusion and is considered to be a "misplaced modifier."
Any word or phrase that provides additional detail or information about a subject, verb or object in a sentence is considered to be a "modifier" because it "modifies" whatever it is describing.
Adjectives can be modifiers: The pretty girl Adverbs can be modifiers: He ran quickly Possessive pronouns can be modifiers: His dad Phrases can be modifiers: The girl, who had red hair. Modifiers must go as close as possible to the subject, verb or object being modified, otherwise the reader might be confused, the modifier might modify the wrong thing, and the modifier may be considered a "misplaced" modifier.
A misplaced modifier is a modifier that is not located next to, or as close as possible to, whatever it is modifying. The subject that it is modifying is present in the sentence (otherwise the error would be considered a dangling modifier) however, the modifier is not attached properly to the thing being modified.
After painting all day, the chair was admired by Mark. The modifier here is "After painting all day" which is designed to provide additional information, or describe Mark. As written, this sentence suggests that THE CHAIR painted all day. In reality, MARK is the person who painted all day. Since the modifier should be describing Mark, the modifier is misplaced. The sentence needs to be rewritten to say "After painting all day, Mark admired the chair he had painted." The fish was greatly enjoyed by the fisherman, which was tasty.The modifier here is "which was tasty" which is meant to provide additional information about the fish. As written, the sentence is either unclear or suggests that the fisherman was tasty. This is not a logical statement. Since the modifier should be describing the fish, it is misplaced. The sentence needs to be rewritten to say "The fish, which was tasty, was greatly enjoyed by the fisherman."
Pretty, the girl was admired.
Misplaced modifiers are distinct from dangling modifiers since the subject being modified is actually contained in the sentence. if the subject being modified was not present in the sentence at all, the modifier would not merely be misplaced. It would be considered a dangling modifier:
Avoid modifier errors, either dangling or misplaced, by ensuring that each modifying word or phrase