Can you see/hear what’s wrong with this sentence – a sentence I heard in a TV news bulletin.
“Protesters took on police armed with rocks.”
Now, I reckon it was the protesters not the police who were armed with rocks – but the way the sentence is written, it sounds as if the police were armed with rocks.
Technically, this mistake is called a “misplaced modifier”. The modifier attaches to the closest noun.
It’s so easy to fix – you place the modifying words ‘armed with rocks’ closest to the people who ‘have the rocks’.
So the sentence should read:
Protesters armed with rocks took on police.
Armed with rocks, protesters took on police.
I understand the problems reporters face writing under intense time pressure – however it’s so easy to get into good writing habits. It’s about 1. being aware of problems and 2. knowing how to fix…
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