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Author: Michelle Harris
  1. Explain what modifiers are and how they function in a sentence.

  2. Explain how to avoid dangling modifiers.

  3. Explain how to avoid misplaced modifiers.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English grammar and who has made mistakes with dangling or misplaced modifiers. It will explain how modifiers function and how to use them correctly.

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What is a Modifier?





How to recognize a modifier

Modifiers are words,phrases, or clauses that provide description in sentences. Modifiers give the reader more information and make a text more interesting. Modifiers add "spice" to your writing. Take a look at this "bland" sentence:

The dog ran.

Now read what several well placed modifiers can do to spice up the sentence:

The brown, spotted dog quickly ran, down the road, after the orange striped cat.

All of the underlined words, above, are modifiers.

Modifiers can be adjectives,adjective clauses, adverbs, adverb clauese,absolute phrases,infinative phrases,participle phrases, and prepositional phrases. 

If it tells you gives you more information about who, what, where and/or when, then it is likely a modifier. 





Source: Purdue Owl

Types of Modifiers


Most Common Modifiers

Adjective: Describe a noun 

 Example: brown dog

Adjective clause = The adjective clause will follow one of these two patterns:

relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb

relative pronoun as subject + verb

Example: Students who are intelligent understand adjectives.

Adverb: Describe a verb or adjective

                Example: quickly ran

Adverb clause : Contains a subject and verb and subordinate conjuction  that keeps the clause from expressing a complete thought. It will answer  how, when and/or why.

                Example: as a tarantula wiggled out of his cheese omelet.

Infinitive (phrase): An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in its simplest "stem" form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or adverb

Example: We must study to learn.

Participle phrase: A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed

                Example: gagging with disgust.

Prepositional phrase: Prepositions work in combination with a noun or pronoun to create phrases that modify verbs, nouns/pronouns, or adjectives. Prepositional phrases convey a spatial, temporal, or directional meaning.

Example: on the cafeteria tray.