Mind Where You Place Your Modifiers
- On October 3, 2017
With an incredibly demanding schedule full of 13-plus-hour days, every effort is being made to maximize Secretary Price’s ability to travel outside of Washington to meet with the American people.
That was part of the statement put out last month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in defense of then Secretary Tom Price’s use of taxpayers’ dollars to fly on private jets to attend public events.
Let’s put aside the statement’s futility and consider the mechanics of this grammatically incorrect sentence.
With an incredibly demanding schedule is in the wrong place. The phrase is meant to modify (describe) Mr. Price because he has—rather, had—the demanding schedule, not the effort. The modifier has to go right next to the noun it’s describing.
The department should have phrased the statement like this: “With an incredibly demanding schedule full of 13-hour-plus days, Secretary Price is making every effort to maximize his ability to travel outside of Washington to meet with the American people.”
Let’s hope Price’s successor has better sense—and grammar.