Modifiers

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Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that provide explanation and narratives in sentences they functions as an adjective or an adverb to describe a word or make its meaning more specific ,or provide additional information about another word or a word group also called the head. Modifiers allow writers to take the image that they have in their heads and transfer it precisely to the heads of their readers.
 
Modifiers include adjectives, adverbs, demonstratives, possessive determiners, prepositional phrases, degree modifiers, and intensifiers. Modifiers that appear before the head are called premodifiers and that which appear after the head are called post modifiers. Modifiers may be either restrictive which is essential to the meaning of a sentence or nonrestrictive that are additional but not essential elements in a sentence.


Examples of Modifiers

Examples of Modifiers
Modifiers can play the roles of adjectives or adverbs.

Modifiers as Adjectives
When a modifier acts as an adjective, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. 
  • Rose caught a small fish.
(Here, the adjective small modifies the noun mackerel.)
  • Rose caught a small fish.
(Don't forget that articles (i.e., the, an, and a) are adjectives too. Here, a modifies the noun mackerel as does small.)
  • Rose caught another one.
(Here, the adjective another modifies the pronoun one.)

Modifiers as Adverbs
When a modifier acts as an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
  • Tina accidentally caught a small sea snail.
(Here, the adverb accidentally modifies the verb caught.)
  • Tina caught an incredibly small sea snail.
(Here, the adverb incredibly modifies the adjective small.)
  • Tina supposedly accidentally caught a small sea snail.
(Here, the adverb supposedly modifies the adverb accidentally.)


Types of Modifiers

There are two types of modifiers in the English language: the adjective and the adverb. Let us first understand the meanings of both an adjective and an adverb. An adjective describes, or modifies a noun such as a person, place, thing, or idea. The adverb mainly modifies verbs, but it may also modify adjectives or other adverbs. Both Adjectives and Adverbs may be single words or complete phrases. 

Adjectives as Modifiers
The use of too many adjectives can produce a negative result! Some of the questions adjectives answers are:
  • What color?
  • What size?
  • How many?
  • What condition?
  • What emotion?
  • What kind?
Example:
Let us look at the phrase 'the cat.' If all of the above questions are answered about the cat in one sentence, it might read as: 'I saw one, large, white, angry, old lynx cross the street.' Now you can see, answering every question with an adjective in the same sentence is not always the technique for a good sentence, but you get the idea.

Adverbs as Modifiers

Adverbs describe verbs. It is quiet easy to remember as an adverb 'adds' more information to the 'verb.' Adverbs answer the following questions:
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?
Example:
Let us look at the sentence, ‘The dog crossed the road.’ The word ‘crossed’ is an action word or a verb, let us add an adverb to the sentence and answer the above questions in the same sentence following not particularly the same order. The sentence, might read as: At five o’clock, the dog quickly crossed the road by the vegetarian restaurant because he wanted to buy a milkshake.’ When answers five o’clock, where answers by the vegetarian restaurant, why answers because he wanted to buy a milkshake and quickly answers how. Hence adding adverbs improve the writing by adding interesting information. 

Examples where Adjectives modify Noun and Pronoun
  • There was a blue kite in the azure sky.
(Blue and azure are adjectives, and they modify the nouns kite and sky.)
  • It was a dark and torrid night.
(Dark is an adjective, such is torrid; they both modify the noun night.)
  • They were tired after a hard day at the work place.
(Adjective tired modifies pronoun they.)
  • He was content with the way things went.
(Content as an adjective modifying pronoun he.)

More Examples where Adverbs modify verb, adjectives and adverbs:

Verb  Adverb modifying verb
       She works on her own.            She works efficiently on her own.    
 We ate lots of food.  We eat up lots of food.

Adjective  Adverb modifying adjective 
       It was 5 a.m. and I was still awake.             It was 5 a.m. and I was still wide awake.     
 We have been patient with him.  We have been quite patient with him.

Adverb  Adverb modifying adverb
       He finished his homework quickly.             He finished his homework very quickly.     
 She ran fast in the race.  She ran amazingly fast in the race.


Misplaced Modifier

A modifier is an optional word or phrase that alters the nature of the information in a sentence without varying the sentence’s grammatical arrangement by its inclusion or omission. When a modifier acting as a word is placed too far from the noun or pronoun it modifies, it becomes challenging.  The best way to correct misplaced modifiers acting as words is to place the modifier before the noun or pronoun it is relating.

Dangling Modifier
A dangling modifier is one in which the presented word or phrase seems to be related with the subject rather than the object, or with nothing. When a modifier inappropriately modifies something, it is called a "dangling modifier." When we begin a sentence with a modifying word or phrase or clause, we must ensure the next thing that comes along can, indeed, be modified by that modifier.

Incorrect Sentence: Looking at the sea, a boat approaching shore was noticed.
Correct Sentence: Looking at the sea, I noticed a boat approaching shore.

Dangling Participle
One type of dangling modifier is the dangling participle, in which the sentence part that misleads the reader is, or includes, a participle, a word that seems to be both an adjective and a verb, such as leading in the following example: “Leading the way, the path unlocked into a clearing.”

Misplaced Modifier
A misplaced modifier, because its location in a sentence is inaccurate, disturbs a word or phrase other than the one planned. In the sentence “Do we really want peeps that are so easily conned in the Scary House?” the incorrect implication is that there is a concern about people being deceived while they are located in the Scary House. This sentence features a casual reference, not to just anyone who happens to be visiting the Scary House, so the modifying phrase “in the Scary House” should immediately follow peeps and precede the action: “Do we really want peeps in the Scary House who are so easily conned?”

Incorrect SentenceWe nearly lived in that house for five years. (Misplaced modifier)
Correct Sentence: We lived in that house for nearly five years. (nearly modifies five)

Squinting Modifier
A squinting modifier, also called a two-way modifier, is a word whose connotation is vague; it could be changing a prior word or a following one. In “Asking the child about it too often results in shrugs,” the writer has failed to communicate whether shrugs occur from too-frequent questions, or whether questions asked with an unspecified frequency result in an unnecessary number of shrugs. One solution is to place the modifier at the beginning of the sentence: “Too often, asking the child about it results in shrugs.”

Incorrect Sentence: Students who seek their instructors' advice often can improve their grades.
Correct SentenceStudent who often seek their instructors' advice can improve their grades.