Position those Modifiers Correctly

rogersgeorge on March 6th, 2017

It’s fun to catch the mass Media, such as (ahem) CNBC when they get something wrong. I suppose they were in a hurry to get this headline out ahead of the competition, but still.

NASA: Seven Earth-sized planets discovered orbiting another star that could host water and life

The clause that starts with “that” is an adjective clause. You know where adjective clauses go, don’t you? Right after the word they refer to! Not halfway down the sentence. That star can’t host water and life, the planets could!

Here’s one correct way:

NASA: Seven Earth-sized planets that could host water and life discovered orbiting another star

Harrumpf.

I read the article, and it happens that the headline is wrong anyway. Only three of the planets are in the habitable zone. The other four aren’t. Beware of sensationalism and bad grammar.

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