Driving Topless in a Jeep

Today at the beginning of a business writing class, I asked attendees to introduce themselves by telling us something they enjoy. One woman announced:

"I enjoy driving around topless in my Jeep."

Was she serious? I stopped and stared, looking for hints from her. She gave no clue. After my awkward pause, I asked, "Did I hear you correctly?" She responded "Yes" and then explained:

"I enjoy driving around with the top down in my Jeep."

Ah. Now I understood. It was a case of a misplaced modifier: The Jeep was topless–not the woman.

Here is a topless revision, in the interests of propriety:

"I enjoy driving around in my topless Jeep."

Lesson: If you want to stop a conversation (and traffic), drive around topless. But if you want to communicate (and drive) safely, drive around in a topless Jeep.

Syntax Training


  1. I also drive a convertible and had a similar situation. I went to lunch with a male friend and when we got back, after driving around with the wind in our hair, we had trouble focusing on our work. He blurted out in front of a whole table of co-workers, “we go out to lunch and you pull your top up and now we can’t concentrate on anything else!!” Boy, did that raise some eyebrows. I had to quickly correct him with, “the top of my car, not my top!” to my embarassment and the relief of my co-workers.

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