How one becomes two

Post date: Dec 1, 2011 5:17:56 PM

I heard this exchange recently on TV: "As a young comedian, they're sort of your first exposure to comedy." I see this all the time. It's an example of a misplaced modifier. The first clause, "as a young comedian," refers to the speaker. The second clause, "they're sort of your first exposure to comedy" refers to some other people. In other words, the speaker says that "they are a young comedian." Well, they are not. For one thing, they would have to be two comedians, at the very least. And then there's the problem of them being young and being your first exposure to comedy at the same time, whoever "you" are. A good editor can help catch these for you. The best way out of this jam in this case? How about this?: "As a young comedian, I loved them. They were my first exposure to comedy." There's no crime in using two sentences to say something!