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modifiers 1

Page history last edited by Brad F 9 years, 7 months ago


Modifiers: words, phrases, or clauses that add detail, specificity, or description to an element in a sentence. Modifiers can be removed without effecting the grammar of the sentence. They must be placed as close as possible to the words that they modify.  


We are familiar with one word modifiers because we use adjectives and adverbs.

  • I gladly gave the hot soup to my dog.


Phrases and clauses can be used to modify elements in a sentence in the same way, acting the way adjectives and adverbs do.




three common kinds of modifying phrases:

  1. participle phrases - verbs (or verb phrases) acting as adjectives, often using the -ing or -ed form of a verb
    1. I looked down at my shoes, sensing the professor's sharp eyes on me.  
    2. As I walked down the street, I saw a cat, huddled in the corner of a cardboard box. 
  2. appositive phrases - renames or identifies a noun right beside it  
    1. My best friend, a class clown of the highest order, sits beside me in chemistry lab. 
    2. I've never liked emojis, a form of hieroglyphic digital writing. 
    3. Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is ending his second term. 
  3. non-restrictive relative clause - adds additional information introduced with words which, who, whose, whom  
    1. I've never like my chemistry teacher, who constantly spits when she talks.  
    2. Danny Trejo, whose acting skills are as rough as his appearance, seems like a sweet man on talk shows.
    3. This class, which satisfies a college requirement, is also pretty awesome.  


More examples- but what kind?: 

  • My younger sister has just arrived in New Orleans for the summer, and she will be consuming snowballs, the local icy dessert, to survive the high temperatures. 
  • I gladly gave the hot soup to my dog, the one with three legs, because I hate soup. 
  • Though he was exhausted from hours of revision, Dorg went to the 7-Eleven for a Red Bull, wearing only his pajamas.  
  • Running through the mall, my bag of Cheetos, the kind with extra cheese, spilled into the water fountain.  
  • Outraged, the community leaders covered the mayor's house, which was close by, in toilet paper. 
  • I wasted my life playing Nintendo, a somewhat primitive home video gaming system of the early 80s. 



Common Errors:


Misplaced Modifiers - a modifier should always be beside (or as close as possible) to the part of the sentence that it is modifying. A modifier that is too distant from the part it is modifying will create a grammatical error (a misplaced modifier) even if its intended meaning is still clear.

  • Paul put the hat on his head that he bought yesterday. 
  • Running for the bus, the rain started to pour and I got wet. 


Dangling Modifier - a dangling modifier error occurs when the part of the sentence that a modifier is modifying is unclear or absent.

  • Running through the mall, my bag of Cheetos, the kind with extra cheese, spilled into the water fountain.  


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