, phrase, or clause that seems to refer to or modify an unintended word because of its placement in a sentence, as when young
in When young, circuses appeal to all of us.
Sometimes, as in the example above, a misplaced modifier
can cause a temporarily puzzling or ludicrous reading of a passage; at other times it can result in ambiguity: Tall and handsome, the people looked at him with awe and admiration.
Usually some rearrangement of elements, and occasionally an addition, can make relationships clear and unambiguous: Circuses appeal to all of us when young
(or when we are young
). Because he was tall and handsome, the people looked at him with awe and admiration. See also dangling participle.