Misplaced modifiers abound in writing.
These words or phrases add information to a sentence’s main idea, but their placement creates confusing or awkward syntax.
The solution is often simply relocating the modifier as a subordinate clause that precedes the main clause:
1. A “Cosby Show“ actress claims the comedian raped her in a new lawsuit.
As written, the sentence suggests that the rape occurred in a lawsuit. In truth, the wording of the lawsuit alleges that the rape occurred, so the sentence should begin with that context:
“In a new lawsuit, a ‘Cosby Show’ actress claims the comedian raped her.”
Another option is to set off, with commas or parentheses, “in a new lawsuit” between the subject, “A ‘Cosby Show” actress,” and the predicate, “claims the comedian raped her.” (The parenthetical can also follow the verb; the addition of “that” helps for clarity.)
“A ‘Cosby Show’ actress, in a new lawsuit, claims the comedian raped her.”
“A ‘Cosby Show’ actress claims (in a new lawsuit) that the comedian raped her.”