Modifiers Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that provide description in sentences. Modifiers allow writers to take the picture that they have in their heads and transfer it accurately to the heads of their readers.
Modifiers…. It can be a WORD, A PHRASE or A CLAUSE Word: E.g. Cool and intelligent, Ken is the class hero. Phrase: The moment Michael saw the ghost, the hair on his hands stood up. (Shows where..) Be very careful with prepositional phrases. Clause: The girl, whom you spoke to a minute ago, is dead!
Modifiers paint a better picture Essentially, modifiers breathe life into sentences. Take a look at this "dead" sentence: Stephen dropped his fork. Poor Stephen, who just wanted a quick meal to get through his three-hour biology lab, accidentally dropped his fork on the cafeteria floor, gasping with disgust as a tarantula wiggled out of his cheese omelet, a sight requiring a year of therapy before Stephen could eat eggs again.
Importance of Modifiers Modifiers can be adjectives, adjective clauses, adverbs, adverb clauses, absolute phrases, infinitive phrases, participle phrases, and prepositional phrases. The sentence above contains at least one example of each: Adjective = poor. Adjective clause = who just wanted a quick meal. Adverb = quickly. Adverb clause = as a tarantula wiggled out of his cheese omelet. Absolute phrase = a sight requiring a year of therapy before Stephen could eat eggs again. Infinitive phrase = to get through his three-hour biology lab. Participle phrase = gasping with disgust. Prepositional phrase = on the cafeteria floorWithout modifiers, sentences would be no fun to read. Carefully chosen, well-placed modifiers allow you to depict situations with as much accuracy.
Misplaced Modifiers A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is improperly separated from the word it modifies / describes. Because of the separation, sentences with this error often sound awkward, ridiculous, or confusing. Furthermore, they can be downright illogical.
Consider the unintentional meanings in thefollowing o The young girl was walking the dog in a short skirt.
The dog was chasing the boy with the spikedcollar.
You can see whats wrong. The dog isnt"in a short skirt" and the boy doesnt havea "spiked collar." Because the modifier is misplaced, we have to think for a minute before we get the intended meaning.
The young girl in a short skirtwas walking the dog.The dog with the spikedcollar was chasing the boy
Misplaced Modifiers Hence, misplace modifiers are words that because of awkward placements, do not describe what the writer intended them to describe. So to avoid them, place modifying words as close as possible to what they describe. Be very careful with:
Place a past participle phrase right before or rightafter the word it describes. Past participle: regular = verb + ed; irregular forms vary. Angered by the football score, Paul kicked the In the living room, Paul kicked the television angered byin the living room. television the football score.Right!sounds as if the if This This sounds asPaul is angered by the television is angeredby the football score! football score!
Place an adjective clause right after the word itdescribes.An adjective clause begins with a word such as that, which, or who. landscaper wrestled the old lawnmower TheThe landscaper wrestled the old lawnmowerthat coughed and grass that coughed and choked. through the long choked through the long grass. I don’t know about you, That makes sense! An but I have never heard old lawn mower can grass cough and cough and choke! choke!
Try and Correct this misplacedmodifiers ^^1. The patient talked about his childhood on the psychiatrist’s couch.2. The crowd watched the tennis player with swiveling heads.3. Vonnie put 4 hamburgers on the counter which she was cooking for dinner.4. Steve carefully hung the new suit that he would wear to his first job interview in the bedroom closet.5. Anne ripped the shirt on a car door that she made in sewing class.6. The newscaster spoke softly into a microphone wearing a bulletproof vest.
You also need to watch the placement of modifiers such asalmost, even, hardly, nearly, often, and only. A couple ofexamples should be enough: 1. Big Dog almost ran around the yard twenty times. 2. He nearly ate a whole box of treats.
In both sentences--when he "almost ran" and"nearly ate"--nothing happened! He didntquite get around to doing either thing. What isintended is: 1. Big Dog ran around the yard almost twenty times. 2. He ate nearly a whole box of cereals. I almost kissed William 20 times a day!
Hmm….1. I nearly napped for 20 minutes during thebiology lecture.2. I napped for nearly 20 minutes during thebiology lecture.3. Only Nadia reads that book.4. Nadia only reads that book.5. Nadia reads only that book.
Dangling ModifiersO1. Having been thrown in the air,the dog caught the stick.
2. Smashed flat by a passing truck, Big Dog sniffed at what was left of a half-eaten hamburger.
the writer has unintentionally saidsomething that he (or she) didnt intend. Thedog wasnt "thrown in the air," and Big Dogwasnt "smashed flat."We can work out what is actually meant.But a reader shouldnt have to work thingsout.
So how do you get rid of these? Do the following:1. Check for modifying phrases at thebeginning of your sentences.2. If you find one, underline the firstnoun that follows it. (Thats the one that isbeing modified.)3. Make sure the modifier and noun gotogether logically. If they dont, chancesare you have a dangling modifier.4. Rewrite the sentence.
oWhen the stick was thrown in the air, thedog caught it. (Here, the modifying phrasehas become a dependent clause. Themeaning is clear.)o Big Dog sniffed at what was left of ahalf-eaten burger that had been smashedby a passing truck. (Again, the phrase hasbeen rewritten as a clause.)
Shaving in front of the steamy mirror, therazor nicked Ed’s Chin.Correct:Shaving in front of the steamy mirror, Ednicked his chin with the razor.While Ed was shaving in front of thesteamy mirror, he nicked his chin with therazor.
While turning over the bacon, hot greasesplashed on my arm.CORRECTION:While I was turning over the bacon, hotgrease splashed on my arm.While turning over the bacon, I wassplashed by hot grease.
Place a present participle phrase right before or rightafter the word it describes. Present participle: verb + ing The children ate banana splits dripping with hot Dripping with hot fudge and whipped cream, the children ate banana splits. fudge and whipped cream. Good! Now the banana Well, that sounds as if the splits are dripping with children are dripping with the hot fudge! hot fudge!
To place modifiers correctly, avoid passive voiceverbs. Passive voice: form of be + past participle + by. Typing furiously, Beatrice finished the essay Typing furiously, the essay was finished by Beatrice by the 3 p.m. deadline. just before the 3 p.m. deadline. I wish my essays typed This is logical! Beatrice themselves! But that’s can type an essay! just not logical!
Try and correct this ^^’’’ 1. Dancing on their hind legs, the audience cheered wildly as the elephants paraded by.
THE END…NOW YOUR SENTENCES WILL NEVER HAVE UNINTENDED MEANINGS