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    #1

    misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    1) Jane gave the letter to John, which he read rapidly.

    2) John opened the box with a knife, which was full of toys.

    3) I learned a trick from him, which I used later.
    4) I learned that trick from him, which I used later.

    Which of these sentences are grammatical?
    Which could be used in informal English?

    I think '1' and '3' would work in informal English, but they are all incorrect from a grammatical point of view.

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    I see what you mean; however, it may be that 1 is grammatically correct. The reason is that you can't refer to a man using "which", so there is no ambiguity or misdirection as in 2. So, 'which he read rapidly' can only modify the letter. That said, it's more of an "examination" sentence, and isn't quite so natural today as it might have been in 1950.

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    #3

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    With 2, the ambiguity is more theoretical than genuine.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    Oh, let's just nix #2. No knife is full of toys.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #5

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Oh, let's just nix #2. No knife is full of toys.
    Don't tell the Swiss Army!

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    #6

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    Surely, they're tools not toys.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: misplaced modifier/sent the book to him

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Don't tell the Swiss Army!
    WOO, do I sit corrected!

    Thanks, man, I needed that!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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