|Don’t hold your breath, kitty|
|Wednesday, May 16, 2012|
By ANNE DONNELL
Dear Anne, Here’s one over which you will surely salivate! (Or is that “shall salivate”?) The question? What is the difference between a misplaced modifier and a dangling modifier? Sign me, “The World Awaits” and maybe “with bated breath” whatever that is.
First, will is the appropriate use; it’s the auxiliary signaling the promise inherent in simple future tense for a second person subject (you). Shall with second person indicates determination. EXAMPLE (Mother to teen son) You shall clean up this mess.
Bated breath, meaning to hold one’s breath, has been around a long time. Shakespeare used it in Merchant of Venice (1596). Bate is tied to abate, and bate has several meanings, including “to reduce the force or intensity of, to restrain.” (Thank you, Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. And, yes, there appear to be two more recent editions which Amazon mentions and then coyly refuses to show. You think I should search to the ends of the earth? These old bones, topped by my now salivating mouth?)
With bated breath is a cliché, but when has that stopped most of us? We’re also fond of the rather threatening don’t hold your breath, actually excellent advice to a tantrum prone child. (And a few of us stumble over distinguishing between the verb breathe and the noun breath.)
SO, let’s move forward, breathing all the while, to THE QUESTION. A dangling modifier has nothing in the sentence to modify. A misplaced modifier needs to be placed more closely to what it modifies.
EXAMPLE OF DANGLING MODIFIER. Speaking in a whisper, we were told the plans. Who is this Speaking…about – not we, busy listening? There’s nothing in the sentence for Speaking… to modify.
EXAMPLE OF MISPLACED MODIFER. Hissing and meowing in anger, Robert called out to the cat. Well, poor Kitty and poor Robert who is probably “fixing to” be scratched, but Robert is definitely not hissing and meowing in anger.
ONLINE DEPARTMENT “Understanding the Difference, A Male Perspective” (Thanks, M.W.) No English dictionary has been able to explain the difference between the two words COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that's easy to understand. Some people say there is no difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED. I beg to differ because there is. When you marry the right woman, you are “COMPLETE.” And when you marry the wrong one, you are “FINISHED!” And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are “COMPLETELY FINISHED!” “Obedient Wives” (Thanks again, M.W.) While creating wives, God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world. And then He smiled and made the earth round.
FIVE RIDDLES (Thanks, C.G.) Some of the riddles require a lot of thought. The answers are at the bottom. •1. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires. The second is full of assassins with loaded guns. The third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him? • 2. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be? • 3. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and gray when you throw it away? • 4. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday? • 5. This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching! THE ANSWERS TO ALL FIVE RIDDLES: 1. The third room. Lions that haven't eaten in three years are dead. That one was easy, right? 2. The woman was a photographer. She shot a picture of her husband, developed it, and hung it up to dry (shot; held under water; and hung). 3. Charcoal, as it is used in barbecuing. 4. Surely you can name three consecutive days - yesterday, today, and tomorrow! 5. The letter e, which is the most common letter used in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph.
BW (Bigtime Word) fugacious – short-lived, fleeting. Like middle aged. So soon one is senior.