NFL referees may know the rules of football, but they clearly need to up their grammar game.
If you’re a football fan, you’re likely familiar with the phrase, “After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stands.” And if you’re not, we’ll catch you up: When NFL referees watch replay video to determine whether a judgment about the result of a play was correct, they make an announcement afterward about the final decision. If they agree with the original call, they often say, “After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stands.”
This is a high-profile example of what’s known as a dangling modifier, which is when a sentence begins with an adjectival modifier but the subject of that modifier is misplaced in the sentence or simply isn’t there at all. In our NFL example, it’s not there, and here’s what the refs could say if they wanted to stick to the English language playbook:
The trick to fixing this mistake is to watch for introductory clauses in sentences that don’t have a subject. For example, “Driving through the countryside, there were lots of farms.” Then, make sure the subject that you are modifying immediately follows the comma: “Driving through the countryside, we saw lots of farms.”
Reading this post, you learned something (we hope). What’s another common example of a dangling modifier? Hit reply and share it with us.
💬 Need more tips?
Want to get writing tips like these on demand? Try Stylebot for free.
📝 About Stylebot
Stylebot helps media professionals save time without sacrificing quality by answering copy editing questions on Slack and Microsoft Teams. We’re on a mission to make editing faster, easier and more fun ✨Lean more about Stylebot or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.