Tag Archives: classroom exercise

Fixing Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Dangling and misplaced modifiers can be amusing. But a misleading sentence such as A wart appeared on my left hand that I want removedcan also create awkward prose. The following exercise with answer key will help you understand and learn to fix this common writing error.

A dangling modifier describes or limits a word or words that are missing from the sentence. A misplaced modifier occurs when the word or phrase it describes is not close enough to be clear. In both instances, the solution is to move the modifier closer to the word(s) it describes or limits.

Dangling modifier:  While searching the web, a virus infiltrated my computer.

Revision:  While searching the web, I discovered that a virus had infiltrated my computer.

Misplaced modifier:  She died in the house in which she was born at the age of 88.

Revision:  At the age of 88, she died in the house in which she was born.

To detect—and remedy—dangling modifiers, ask the question who or what?after an introductory phrase. The words immediately following should tell the reader who or what is performing the action.

Dangling modifier:  After working ten hours, the report was finally completed.

Revision:  After working ten hours, we finally completed the report.

Students: Find the dangling or misplaced modifier and rewrite the sentence correctly.

  1. After leaving the office, Sarita’s car would not start.
  2. Skilled with accounting software, the personnel manager hired Ann Pearson, CPA.
  3. Skilled at graphic design, the contract went to DesignPlus.
  4. Walking up the driveway, the Hummer parked in the garage was immediately noticed by detectives.
  5. To meet the deadline, your Excel figures must be received before June 1.
  6. As an important customer to us, we would like to tell you that we have moved our administrative offices.
  7. The attorney said his client was returning from the swimming pool when, without warning, she was bitten by a snake on her right foot.
  8. The Park Hotel is just one of the Art Deco buildings you can see strolling about South Beach.
  9. Firemen rescued a dog from a car that had a broken leg.
  10. Acting as CEO, several new employees were hired by Mr. Sanchez.
  11. I accept your kind offer to serve on the committee that I received on May 3.
  12. To find a good job, diligence and perseverance are needed.

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers Exercise

DanglingMisplacedModifiersSolutions

Critical Thinking Case Study: Is Amazon.com a Jungle?

A recent article in The New York Times exposed harsh working conditions for white-collar employees at global e-retailer Amazon.com. Current and former “Amazonians” called the company’s pace relentless and said they were encouraged to tear apart coworkers’ ideas in meetings. Likewise, they told of approved systems to sabotage colleagues and working long and late hours—all to service standards the company itself labels “unreasonably high.”

The article quoted one employee who said it was commonplace to see workers crumbled at their desks in tears. Another said the yearly purge of management “losers” kept employees in a constant state of high pressure Amazon owner Jeff Bezos expected.amazon

The article noted that those who are successful are rewarded with Amazon stock options that can make them wealthy. However, others who are unlucky enough to have a personal problem such as cancer or a miscarriage are pushed out.

Amazon’s grueling pace has been in the news before, especially about its fulfillment centers, where blue-collar workers have complained of Dickensian working conditions. It has been reported that the physical work there is compounded by the non-stop stress of being monitored for productivity.

These complaints from both white- and blue-collar workers come from a company ethos that is dedicated to the consumer; in fact, Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles lists its No. 1 goal as “customer obsession.” Leaders “work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.”

In response to The New York Times article, Jeff Bezos said he did not recognize the company the reporter described, and other employees have come forward to praise the corporate culture in which workers are “dedicated and excited to go the extra mile.” Likewise, Bezos says he doesn’t tolerate “callous management practices” and claims that he himself would not work at Amazon if the conditions were as bad as the article depicts.
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Classroom Exercise

In teams, discuss the following questions. You can read the article from The New York Times and the rebuttal written by an 18-month Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu at the links below.

New York Times Article
Rebuttal to New York Times Article

  1. What do you think about a corporate culture that encourages employees to put the customer before all else? Would you like working in such conditions?
  1. The white-collar workers hired at Amazon are aware of its work ethos. Do you think they should complain about their employer? Why or why not?
  1. How do you feel about making purchases through Amazon.com in light of the claims being made about its harsh working conditions?

Résumé Experience Statement Exercise

Instructors: Remind your students that effective résumé statements are written in a truncated style that eliminates personal pronouns (I, me, myself) and skips most articles (a, an, and the). These concise statements employ strong action verbs and specific nouns to describe employment achievements and skills.

Try a “round robin” approach to see how students edit on the fly! We’ve included printable files at the end of the post for your convenience.

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Résumé Experience Statement Exercise        

Revise the following experience statements for conciseness. Some statements may also be improved by replacing weak verbs.

Example

Poor:            In one of my classes, I researched, compiled, and wrote a 35-page business plan by myself.

Improved:   Researched and wrote 35-page business plan.

  1. I was responsible to make sure that four employees did their daily tasks.
  2. I attended to a variety of client inquiries in a busy office of 16 lawyers.
  3. Decided how to handle tenants’ problems including everything from clogged drains to broken windows.
  4. It was my job to make sure customer bills went out on a set schedule.
  5. Was a coach for an after-school baseball program where I coached a group of 12 boys and girls.
  6. Managed an entire database for two months for one of the sales departments in the company while the manager was away on maternity leave.
  7. As a volunteer, I participated in beach clean up and collected trash that was left over from the holiday weekend.
  8. Promoted after only six months to one of the first managerial positions for a start-up company’s business.
  9. Used various bookkeeping software applications such as QuickBooks and Quicken to help prepare clients’ monthly statements.
  10. Went to Spanish classes to improve my speaking and writing of Spanish.
  11. Part of the group that raised over $2000 for a charity that gave the money raised to help underserved youth.
  12. Wrote drafts of press releases to be posted on the company website for my supervisor.
  13. Designed and created a system that improved the day-to-day operating procedures.
  14. I was awarded outstanding salesperson prize for making more sales than any other salesperson for three months in a row.
  15. Did the planning for a regional meeting and successfully obtained a speaker and was able to find an appropriate venue.

Solutions

  1. Supervised four employees and oversaw daily tasks.
  2. Addressed client inquiries for 16 attorneys.
  3. Resolved tenant complaints.
  4. Distributed customer bills on strict schedule.
  5. Coached 12 children for after-school baseball program.
  6. Managed sales database while manager took two-month leave.
  7. Participated in beach clean-up volunteer day to collect post-holiday trash.
  8. Promoted to managerial position at start-up company within six months.
  9. Performed bookkeeping tasks using QuickBooks and Quicken to prepare monthly client statements.
  10. Attended Spanish classes to improve speaking/writing skills.
  11. Helped raise $2000+ in donations for organization helping underserved youth.
  12. Drafted press releases for posting on company website.
  13. Created system to improve daily operations.
  14. Awarded outstanding salesperson prize for three consecutive months.
  15. Planned regional meeting; secured venue and speaker.

Résumé Exercise_Unedited

Résumé Statement Solutions