By Nate George
Below we have the dark and twisted tale of the rise and fall of my dear friend Clarity. Please, be aware that this is not a story for the faint of heart. It follows Clarity, an essential yet often overlooked element of the English language. After decades of an adequate yet hardly remarkable existance, he has recently been made aware of a threat on his life. These threats come from the dark underworld known only as The Realm of the Misplaced Modifier. The inhabitants of this realm, once condemned to eternal suffering, have recently found their way into the real world. They threaten Clarity every day with the promise of total annihilation. On this day, the Misplaced Modifiers won the war.
Clarity wakes in the morning to birds chirping softly outside his window. “Today will be the day,” he whispers to himself. He quickly gets dressed, grabs a cup of coffee, and scoots out the door. The brisk autumn air brushes his cheeks, and he returns his car keys to his pocket. He softly chuckles to himself, “A nice morning like this, why drive to work?” He heads down the street, whistling a rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” and daydreaming about the comma he was at the bar with last night. “She really was something…” he mutters. As the song concludes and the daydream fog subsides, Clarity realizes that he doesn’t know where he is. Bieber’s mesmerizing vocals has led him unknowingly into a rough part of the neighborhood. As he looks around in search of a recognizable street sign, he spots a gang of Misplaced Modifiers stepping out from their hiding place behind a vacant building. “Oh sh—” he sputters as he turns to run. Before he can even complete his expletive, they are on him.
“I drank a hot cup of coffee this morning!” shouts one of the attackers.
“No, please!” begs Clarity “The cup isn’t hot—the coffee is! Therefore, you drank a ‘cup of hot coffee this morn—’” A looping fist connects with the soft flesh of Clarity’s cheek, abruptly cutting him off. Clarity spits, turning the pavement beneath him a dark shade of red. He continues, seemingly unfazed by the lack of his lateral incisor, “In order to avoid confusion, the goal is to keep the modifier as close as possible to the thing that it’s modifying in the sentence.”
“AAAGHH!” shrieks another Misplaced Modifier. “I saw a yard sale on the way here!”
A burst of pain rips through Clarity’s abdomen as he is hit with a Louisville Slugger. “No…” he musters. He draws a short breath and croaks, “Was the yard sale headed over here? Have yard sales suddenly become sentient and moving? No? You were the one who was coming here, so the correct sentence would be ‘On the way here I saw a yard sale.’” He draws another pained breath, the coppery taste of blood now present on the back of his tongue. “Remember, adjectives, adverbs, and phrases must be as close as possible to the noun they are modifying. If this isn’t done correctly, clarity is adversely affected and a misplaced modifier is formed. This is where a noun other than the intended recipient of an adjective/adverb/phrase is affected.”
The Misplaced Modifiers, far past the point of coherency, show no signs of slowing. “She served dinner to her parents on fine china!” squawks a Misplaced Modifier with the words “Big Nasty” tattooed on his face.
Paralyzed now from the waist down, Clarity speaks, his voice barely above a whisper, “Her parents are not located on top of fine china. You should have said ‘She served dinner on fine china to her parents.‘ Generally, you should try not to put other words between the modifier and the thing it’s modifying.”
A Misplaced Modifier named Flea lands the final blow. “Tired from running all morning, Bill’s exhaustion forced him to take a nap before lunch!” he wretches.
Now welcoming death with a loving embrace, Clarity uses his final dying breath. “How is Bill’s exhaustion tired from running? Since when did physical states have emotion? I believe that you meant to say ‘Tired from running all morning, Bill was forced to take a nap before lunch because of his exhaustion.'”
Clarity lies on the asphalt for a few moments before his eyelids slowly slide shut. “I tried,” he whispers. “I tried…”
And just like that, Clarity has been killed by the Misplaced Modifiers.