What is a modifier? Modifiers are used to clarify, explain, describe and otherwise delimit the meaning of other parts of speech and sentence elements. These are words, phrases, or clauses that give descriptive details. When considering the proper form of a modifier, ask yourself what word is being modified.
The first step in identifying modifiers is to read the sentence and look for descriptive words. You should then look at each descriptive word and try to determine whether it is an adjective or an adverb.
An adjective describes a noun or pronoun It answers the questions: how many which one what kind?
1. She is a good tennis player. (What kind of tennis player is she?)2. This is an easy exercise. (What kind of exercise is it?)3. She gave the swing a gentle push. (What kind of push did she give the swing?)4. Jumping with joy, she rejoiced about her victory.
An adverb describes a: verb an adjective another adverb It answers the questions: when, where, how, why, and to what extent.
1. She plays tennis well. (How does she play?)2. This exercise is relatively easy. (To what extent is it easy?)3. She pushed the swing gently. (How did she push the swing?)
In the same vein, remember that adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. Do not mistakenly use an adverb to modify these parts of speech. For example, after a linking verb you may be tempted to use an adverb instead of an adjective. You will recall that the linking verb is a special kind of verb because it links its subject to a subject complement.
A subject complement can be either a noun (renaming the subject) or a modifier (describing the subject). When it is a modifier it must be an adjective because it describes the subject (always a noun or pronoun). It does not modify the linking verb itself and should therefore not be an adverb: [WRONG] We felt badly about having caused the accident [RIGHT] We felt bad about having caused the accident.
Identify the modifier and tell whether it functions as an adjective or an adverb. She set it down very gently. It was a nice house. Mr. Clinton is a wealthy man. She gave the man a frightening stare. The politician is a man of friendly nature. He does his presentation carelessly. My father is a great mentor. June 23 is the longest day. He rudely answered the phone call. We recently constructed this house.