“Bob found a dime in his pocket looking for his keys.”
My youngest sister and I laughed over this sentence for several years during our teens. It’s a sentence that showed up in either the seventh- or eighth-grade grammar text to teach misplaced modifiers.
I think it was actually part of one of the exercises, and we were supposed to identify whether it had a misplaced modifier or not. And possibly to rewrite it if it did.
The sentence does have a misplaced modifier, in case you’re wondering. Reread the sentence carefully. It implies that a dime sitting inside Bob’s pocket was looking for Bob’s keys.
Correctly written, it should have said something like, “While looking for his keys, Bob found a dime in his pocket.”
I always got it right. I was the Grammar Queen in high school. Didn’t get why other kids didn’t get it.
Turns out that even when you’re the Grammar Queen, strange, unintentional phrases still manage to worm their way out of your mouth. And when you’ve got a sharp kid with a great sense of humor, he’ll happily point those phrases out to you.
Take the other day, for example. I was talking about the bird netting that we had draped over the blueberries to keep the birds from eating them all up. “The blueberry bird netting,” I said in the process.
B laughed. “That sounds like a bird netting made out of blueberries!”
So it did. I laughed, too. “Wouldn’t the birds love that kind of netting?” I asked.
Blueberry bird netting indeed. Goes right along with the beetle netting we recently put over the blackberries to keep the cardinals away.
Blackberry beetle netting.
Really tasty with my tomato stakes. And a great side dish for cucumber trellises.
Wow, there are more edibles in the garden than I thought!
And I think I’ve fallen off my grammar throne.