ACT English : Misplaced or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

My lunch I had with my friend Gary (1) did not go very well. For one thing (2) he said he would come to pick me up (3) at noon. He normally texts me when he's outside, so I waited until 12:25.  Finally, at 12:30, he sends (4) a text: "Left my phone at home and had to come back to get it since you weren't downstairs waiting."

When he came back to get me, he was mad, at me. (5) "I couldn't find your doorbell," he shouted, "because there was no name tag on it, so I had gone (6) all the way home to get my phone just to text you!" (7)

"Wait a minute," I said, starting to get angry myself, "you're mad at me because you left your phone at home and you couldn't find my doorbell?"

"That's right," he replied __________ (8). "If you had been waiting downstairs, I would have had to not go through all of this." (9)

"But you're the one who left your phone at home," I countered, "and you always text me when you get here. Never have you asked me (10) to wait outside for you."

"Well, you should have," he muttered.

The rest of the day goes (11) downhill from there, all because my former friend Gary is (12) too proud to admit when he makes a mistake.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

You have never asked me

NO CHANGE

You have asked me never

You never have asked me

Correct answer:

You have never asked me

Explanation:

The phrasing "You have never asked me" corrects the stilted language of the original and places the modifer "never" in the correct place in the sentence.

Example Question #2 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Adapted from Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854)

A candle faintly burned in the window, to which the black ladder had often been raised for the sliding away of all that was most precious in this world to a striving wife and a brood of hungry babies. Stephen added to his other thoughts the stern reflection, that of all the casualties of this existence upon earth, not one was dealt out with so unequal a hand as death. The inequality of birth was nothing to it. For example, the child of a king and the child of a weaver were born tonight in the same moment. What would be the disparity between the death of any human creature who was serviceable to, or beloved by, another, while this abandoned woman lived on!

From the outside of his home he gloomily passed to the inside with suspended breath and with a slow footstep. He went up to his door opened it and so into the room.

Quiet and peace was there. Rachael was there, sitting by the bed.

She turned her head, and the light of her face shone in upon the midnight of his mind. She sat by the bed watching and tending his wife. That is to say, he saw that someone lay there and knew too good that it must be she. However, Rachael’s hands had put a curtain up, so that she was screened from his eyes. Her disgraceful garments were removed, and some of Rachael’s were in the room. Everything was in it’s place and order as he had always kept it. The little fire was newly trimmed, and the hearth was freshly swept. It appeared to him that he saw all this in Rachael’s face. While looking at it, it was shut out from his view by the softened tears that filled his eyes; however, this was not before he had seen how earnestly she looked at him, and how her own eyes were filled too.

Which of the following is the best form of the underlined selection "from the outside of his home he gloomily passed"?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

From the outside of his home, he gloomily

Gloomily, he passed from the outside of his home

From the outside of his home he gloomy

Correct answer:

Gloomily, he passed from the outside of his home

Explanation:

Although you do not necessarily need to change the selection, the introductory prepositional phrase is clearer if it is placed directly before the other prepositional phrase "to the inside . . ." Stephen is passing from one place to another. This is clearer if "from" is placed in close conjunction with "to."

Example Question #2 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.  

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

almost played every day outsid

played outside every day.

played outside almost every day.

Correct answer:

played outside almost every day.

Explanation:

"Played outside almost every day" is the best choice because you should place the modifier “almost” right before what it modifies—the days. When you say you “almost played every day” that implies you almost decided to play but you may have changed your mind.

Example Question #4 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

During the final months of 2007, the prices of basic grains nearly doubled in Northern Africa, Latin America, and much of Asia, the high prices caused a global food crisis. The catastrophe sparked and incited an international debate regarding the licensing of new technologies to developing nations. One economist warned that because of the risk of unforeseen price shocks, officials should proceed very cautiously. The construction of private farms pose a serious financial threat to farmers in the United States; nevertheless, of the five most industrialized nations, the United States exports more crops.  

How do some countries cope with food crises better than others. It is technology that accounts for the majority of the difference. The rate at which countries adopt innovations depends significantly on environmental factors. These environmental factors include climate, soil and elevation. The variability in environment inhibits new technologies from gaining worldwide popularity that are suited for one particular region over another. For example, the pesticides used in Europe are much more acidic than North America. Without the different levels of acidity, pests would prevent the crops to grow.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

new technologies that is suited for one particular region over another from gaining worldwide popularity 

NO CHANGE

new technologies that are suited for one particular region over another from gaining worldwide popularity 

new technologies from gaining worldwide popularity that have been suited for one particular region over another

Correct answer:

new technologies that are suited for one particular region over another from gaining worldwide popularity 

Explanation:

The original text contains a misplaced modifier. We know that the phrase "that are suited for one particular region over another" must modify "new technologies" because the modifier phrase uses the plural form "are," and "new technologies" is the only plural noun in the sentence.

The correct way to express the sentence is "The variability in environment inhibits new technologies that are suited for one particular region over another from gaining worldwide popularity."

Example Question #5 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

The house stood, at the bottom of a hill, making it hard to see from the street. The owner wants it that way, as he had no use for any of his neighbors. “Nosy sneaks and cheats” he would to say to his son. Not that his son ever really listening. The old man did not see him very much, either at his home or going anywhere else. Every time he did see him, his son would just complain about how his house was dark musty, and filthy. The old man did not need such criticism, especially from only his blood relative. He had lived in that house for fifty years, and planned to live there as long as he possibly could. While he lived there, his neighbors would never see him or his house if he could help it. He could take care of him, and steadfastly refused to allow anyone to help. In his tiny house, at the bottom of the hill, the old man was content to be alone, and believed he was living perfect.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

from his only blood relative

only from his blood relative

from his blood only relative

Correct answer:

from his only blood relative

Explanation:

The word order in this sentence is awkward and creates confusion. The placement of "only" makes it seem that just his "blood relative" would complain, which is not the intended meaning of the statement. The word order that shows the son is the old man's single remaining "blood relative" is "from his only blood relative."

Example Question #3 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Jeremy had no luck convincing the members of the orchestral committee about his suggestions. He pleaded, cajoled, was begging, and even threatened the committee at various times, but yet despite being the conductor, he couldnt get them to agree to his requests. Despite many attempts, the committee would not listen to him. In the end, he decided to go through with the Christmas concert despite him not having his favorite composer on the program. Afterward, one of his friends, whom was in the audience, came up and asked him why was there no Handel on the program? "I did try" Jeremy replied "but the committee were unanimously against me. I nearly begged them all day to put one piece on the program. But try as I might I could not get a Handel on it."

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

almost begged them

begged them nearly

NO CHANGE

begged them near

Correct answer:

begged them nearly

Explanation:

The placement of the modifier in the original sentence indicates that Jeremy nearly begged them but in fact did not. The placement "begged them nearly all day" indicates that he did beg them and for a substantial period of time.

Example Question #272 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Ascertaining the meaning of ancient writing is often beyond the reach of even the most learning scholars.

Possible Answers:

even the most learning scholars.

even scholars most learning.

the most learning scholars.

even the most learning of scholars.

even the most learned scholars.

Correct answer:

even the most learned scholars.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase has a problem with the phrase "most learning." The phrase is describing the word "scholars." While the scholars might have "the most learning," this would make them "the most learned." The correct answer is "even the most learned of scholars."

Example Question #9 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Possible Answers:

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems as such as depression and anxiety.

Studies have shown pets that can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression or anxiety.

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Correct answer:

Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Explanation:

The insertion of "that" between "studies" and "have" makes the sentence unclear and strangely incomplete, as the sentence essentially becomes a dependent clause. By placing "that" after "shown," the sentence becomes much more clear and appropriately makes the dependent clause after the main body of the sentence. The correct answer choice is "Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety."

Example Question #1928 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Only the time that will work for everyone is in the evenings.

Possible Answers:

Only the time that will work

Only the timing that will work

The only time that will work

Only the time that will be working

Only the time which will work

Correct answer:

The only time that will work

Explanation:

The insertion of "only" at the beginning of the sentence creates confusion as to exactly what it is modifying. The word should be moved to make it clear it is modifying "time," which is the way the sentence makes the most sense. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "The only time that will work."

Example Question #1 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

His manner of speech was like exactly his grandfather's.

Possible Answers:

His manner of speech was exactly like his grandfather's.

His manner of speech was like exactly his grandfathers.

His manner in speech was like exactly his grandfather's.

His manner of speech was like exactly his grandfather's.

His manner of speech was like exactly that of his grandfather's.

Correct answer:

His manner of speech was exactly like his grandfather's.

Explanation:

The placement of "exactly" in the sentence is confusing, as placing it after "like" makes it seem as though the manner was almost exactly or kind of exactly. By placing "exactly" after "was," the comparison between the two manners of speech is more clear, making the correct answer "His manner of speech was exactly like his grandfather's."

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