Modifiers Grammar What is yoWur a Modifier? Selling idea A modifier is a single word or a group of words which can be a phrase or a clause that describes or provides more information about a word in a sentence. The word in the sentence can be a subject, noun, verb, adjective, adverb, object, complement or another modifier. Most commonly, the modifying words are adjectives and adverbs. As adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns, and as adverbs, they modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. A noun too can be used as a modifier of another noun. For example: ➔ Modifier as an adjective: He has a nasal voice. Or: His voice is nasal. ➔ Modifier as an adverb: Someone sneezed loudly at the back of the queue. A modifier can come before or after the noun that it modifies. Examples “There is a fat baby in that pram.” “The baby is only plump, not fat.”. Adjectives and Adverbs as Modifiers Tip Adjectives as modifiers come more often before the noun than after it. Adverbs as modifiers occur immediately before or after the verb, and before an adjective or another adverb. Adjective Modifying Noun It was a dark and stormy night. (Dark is an adjective, so is stormy; they both modify the noun night.) There was a red kite in the cloudless sky. (Red and cloudless are adjectives, and they modify the nouns kite and sky.) Tip Adjectives can also modify pronouns Example He was happy with the way things went. (Happy as an adjective modifies pronoun he.) Adverb as Modifier The Adverb can modify: ➔ Verb ➔ Adjective ➔ Adverb ➔ Whole sentence Adverb modifying verb She breathes heavily. (The adverb heavily modifies the verb breathes.) Tip Adverbs are not just words ending in -ly. While the majority of adverbs involve -ly, like quickly, slowly, nastily, and wantonly, some don’t, like never and often. And then some -ly words can be adjectives, such as an ugly worm, timely intervention, and monthly bills. He often sees dragons in his dreams. (Adverb often modifies verb sees.) He did not feel hungry and ate sparingly. (Adverb sparingly modifies verb ate.) Adverb modifying adjective He is really funny. (The adverb really modifies the adjective funny.) The water is hot enough to make a drink. (The word enough is an adverb and it modifies the adjective hot.) Tip Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Considering their name, adverbs, it’s easy to forget they also modify adjectives and themselves. Adverb modifying adverb We whisper very softly to each other. (The adverb very modifies the adverb softly.) Tip Don’t confuse adverbs with adjectives. If it’s an adverb, it cannot modify a thing, only an action, a description, or another adverb. He now gets home more quickly with his new car. (More is an adverb and it modifies another adverb quickly.) Adverb modifying whole sentence Hopefully, the weather will be good enough for a picnic tomorrow. (The adverb hopefully modifies an entire statement/sentence rather than just a single word or phrase.) Tip Adverbs can be phrases An adverbial phrase will usually include words that in themselves are not adverbs. To distinguish an adjective from an adverb, you have to find what it is modifying. Tip Once again, if it’s an adverb, it cannot modify a thing, only an action, a description, or another adverb. Comparatives and Superlatives as Modifiers Comparatives and superlatives can act as modifiers as they are either adjectives or adverbs. The comparative form is restricted to comparing two things while the superlative form compares more than two things. A simple gesture Abu's older camel died last week. (This sentence says that Abu has two camels, one of which died last week. Older modifies the camel that died.) Tip The word very can be an adjective or an adverb, but we cannot use it to modify comparatives and superlatives. Abu has the oldest camel in the desert. (Here the superlative oldest is used, as there are more than two camels in the desert. Oldest modifies camel in the sentence.) Multiple Modifiers The highly experienced driver drove very quickly through the tunnel. Not: The highly experienced and very quickly driver drove through the tunnel. This sentence is wrong because the adverb quickly modifies the noun driver. An adverb does not modify a noun. The adverb highly modifies the adjective experienced. The adjective experienced modifies the noun driver. The adverb very modifies the adverb quickly. The adverb quickly modifies the verb drove. The prepositional phrase through the tunnel modifies the verb drove. Tip Modifiers can be more than one describing the same noun to make it more precise or interesting. They can be a phrase, or multiple-word, or even just one word modifying a whole sentence. The modifiers must be easily identifiable with the words they modify. Nouns as Modifiers. Tip A noun can modify another noun that follows it. As a modifier, the first noun gives specific information about the following noun. In nearly all cases, the noun that acts as the modifier is in singular form. We are renovating the old farm buildings.. They spent the weekends doing the flower bed. She kept her money box under her bed. The road accident injured five people. He still keeps the library books after they have expired. Tip When a noun used as a modifier is combined with a number expression, the noun is singular and a hyphen is used. Noun modifiers of noun modifiers are used together. ➔ You can get your rock garden tools in this store. ➔ His company car workshop is demanding overdue payments. ➔ Their two-partner computer business is expanding fast. ➔ The family lived in a four-bedroom country house. Participles as Modifiers Present participle Past participle She got a dancing doll for her birthday. The beaten home team was booed as soon as the match ended. (The present participle dancing modifies the noun doll.) (The past participle beaten modifies the noun home team.) Present participles and past participles can act as modifiers of nouns. These participles can in turn be modified by adverbs. Dangling Modifiers When there is a modifier in the form of a word, phrase, or clause in a sentence, there must be something for it to modify. If the thing to be modified is not present in the sentence, the modifier is said to dangle as it modifies nothing. Examples Dangling modifier: Having seen the movie once, there is no reason to see it again. Correct: Having seen the movie once, we have no reason to see it again. Dangling modifier: Bitten by a snake, the fear was that the snake could be poisonous. Correct: Bitten by a snake, he feared the snake could be poisonous. Dangling modifier: While lying under a tree, a bee stung his left ear. Correct: While John was lying under a tree, a bee stung his left ear. Misplaced & Squinting Modifiers A misplaced modifier is a word or phrase that is placed in a wrong place in a sentence. A squinting modifier is usually an adverb that appears to modify either the words that come before it or those that come after it. Examples Misplaced modifier: We nearly lived in that house for five years. Correct: We lived in that house for nearly five years. Misplaced modifier: He almost lost one million dollars in the casino. Correct: He lost almost one million dollars in the casino. Squinting Modifier: She believes massage often improves her blood circulation. Massage - often improves her blood circulation; or Massage often - improves her blood circulation.