Modifiers Modifiers are words, phrases and clauses that tell about nouns and verbs. In 7th and 8th grades, we called modifiers adjectives and adverbs —remember?
Modifiers As a general rule, modifiers need to go right next to the word they’re modifying. Often, we move around modifiers to make our sentences sound more dramatic. We often end up confusing the reader. We wanted our ordeal to end desperately.
LIMITING MODIFIERS Modifiers that limit a word ( in time or amount ) must go directly in front of the word they modify. Limiting modifiers include the follow:ALMOST EVEN HARDLYJUST MERELY NEARLYONLY SCARCELY SIMPLY
LIMITING MODIFIERS Notice how the meaning of the sentence changes with the placement of the modifier: They just want her to sing this song. They want just her to sing this song. They want her just to sing this song. They want her to sing just this song.
Fix the limiting modifiers bymoving them: I almost ate the whole pie. I ate almost the whole pie. Rex just died with his boots on. Rex died with just his boots on. Even we didn’t score once. We didn’t score even once.
SQUINTING MODIFIERS Squinting modifiers seem to modify two words at one time and can be confusing (and sometimes humorous). Students who follow directions consistently score well on tests. Are the students consistently following directions? Are the students consistently scoring well on the tests?
SQUINTING MODIFIERS To fix the squinter, simply move it next to the word you want it to modify. Students who consistently follow directions score well on tests. Students who follow directions score consistently well on tests. See the difference?
Fix the squinter by placing it correctly: Obese patients who take this medication occasionally may notice a few side effects. Which makes more sense? Are the patients taking the medication only occasionally? Are the patients occasionally noticing side effects from the medication? FIXED: Obese patients who take this medication may occasionally notice a few side effects.
Fix the squinters by placingthem correctly: Students who can type normally are put into an advanced class. Which makes more sense? Students that type with their fingers (not toes, hairbrushes or vacuum cleaners) are put in advance classes. Students that already know how to type are usually in an advanced class. FIXED: Students who can type are normally put into an advanced class.
Fix the squinters by placingthem correctly: The delegate who had seconded the motion quickly left the room. Which makes more sense? The delegate seconded the motion with great speed and haste. The delegate left the room after seconding the motion. FIXED: The delegate who seconded the motion left the room quickly.
Misplaced Modifiers: Misplaced modifiers are often phrases or clauses that are “out of place”. Much like the limiting modifier and the squinter, misplaced modifiers simply need to be moved next to the word they modify. Quite often, a misplaced modifier is unintentionally humorous.
Misplaced Modifiers: I saw a flock of geese driving to Sioux City yesterday. When did the DOT allow geese drivers’ licenses? FIXED: Driving to Sioux City yesterday, I saw a flock of geese. First-time offenders take part in discussions about reckless driving with counselors. So, the reckless driving offense only happens when the counselors are in the car? FIXED: First-time offenders take part in discussions with counselors about reckless driving.
Fix the misplaced modifiers: It was reported that the Italian premier had died on the morning newscast. Imagine—you’re drinking your morning coffee and watching the news. The interviewer is chatting with the Italian premier when all of a sudden, the premier falls over dead. How gruesome is that? FIXED: It was reported on the morning newscast that the Italian premier had died.
Fix the misplaced modifiers: Sue is part owner of a company that makes clothing for women based in Dallas. Sue isn’t going to stay in business very long if she’s making clothes only for women that live in Dallas. FIXED: Sue is part owner of a company based in Dallas that makes clothing for women.