Quite a bit has been written about misplaced modifiers like “Sheila drove her car into the kitchen in a long dress.” We know that sentence needs to be rearranged so that no one mistakenly envisions the kitchen wearing a long dress.
Something similar to a misplaced modifier, but slightly different, is when we match up the wrong nouns and verbs.
“Tommy was sitting at the table munching on his milk and cookies.” I can just hear him biting into the milk. Hmmm. That’s not going to work.
You need to switch it around. “Tommy was sitting at the table munching on his cookies and milk.” I find that adequate, but some grammar Nazis might want to rewrite the last phrase to make it even more accurate: “Tommy was sitting at the table munching on his cookies and guzzling his milk.” Because then when you look at it, he’s not going to be munching on milk. Unless he’s a pretty weird kid.
Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor (http://tinyurl.com/7wnk5se) and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: http://tinyurl.com/6v65rgr