Friday, May 8, 2009

Modifiers: Close Call

Before we start my top 22 issues with the way we talk and write, this issue happened to be on my mind; so I'll address it. Modifiers like adjectives and adverbs should be as close to what they're modifying. Not, as the song title reads, "I only have eyes for you," but, "I have eyes only for you," or, "I have eyes for only you," or "I have eyes for you only." Typically speakers and writers put the emphasized modifier too early. The statement will be most powerful when the modifier is near what it modifies.

P.S.: It humorously occurred to me that some like to look at their significant others, but they don't like to listen to them. Then, perhaps, "I have only eyes for you," might work. Keep in mind that the indication in this last style is also that one doesn't have lips or other body parts for the significant other!

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