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Adjectives, Adverbs,
and Other Modifiers
What are adjectivesadjectives?
Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns. They can
tell “Which one?” or “How many?”
 A hot day
 A happy camper
 A silly twit
 A big, bloody mess (both “big” and “bloody” modify “mess”)
 She is creative (“creative” is a subject complement that
follows the linking verb “is”)
 A boring course (present participle used as an adjective)
Articles (a, an, the), numbers, and some pronouns can
also serve as adjectives. (See page 376.)
What are adverbs?
• Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other
adverbs. (See page 381.)
• Many adverbs end with -ly
• Many adverbs answer the questions “How?”
or “When?” Some tell “Where?” and “To what
extent?”
• All these words are adverbs:
Eating quickly (modifying a verb)
Trying very hard (modifying an adverb)
A really big show (modifying an adjective)
Recognizing Adjectives &
Adverbs
Many words have both an adjective and adverb form
Adjective Adverb
happy kids play happily
smooth rock runs smoothly
good food eat well
efficient workers work efficiently
casual dress dress casually
quick meeting talk quickly
hopeful children wait hopefully
real butter really hot
Comparatives and Superlatives (pp. 377-
379)
Usually, add -er/more or -est/most.
Simple Comparative Superlative
Hot Hotter Hottest
Good Better Best
Exciting More exciting Most exciting
Careful Less careful Least careful
• comparative = 2
Sally is the larger of the twins. (not largest)
• superlative = 3 or more
August was the hottest month of the year.
How to decide: -er/-est or more/most?
• One syllable, use -er or -est:
smarter, smartest
faster, fastest
• Two-syllable adjective that ends in -y,
change the -y to -i and add -er or -est:
lovelier, loveliest
happier, happiest
• All other words, use more or most:
more beautiful, most beautiful
more helpful, most helpful
more quickly, most quickly
pages 377-378
Irregular Adjectives and Adverbs
These four words do not use -er/-est or more/most
to form the comparative or superlative:
Simple Comparative Superlative
Good (adj.) Better Best
Well (adv.) Better Best
Bad (adj.) Worse Worst
Badly (adv.) Worse Worst
They can be confusing because the adjectiveadjective and
adverbadverb forms are the same word. (See pages 379-383.)
Avoid Double Comparatives!
• NEVER use more or most with -er
or -est.
Yesterday was more hotter than today.
That was the most dirtiest story I ever
heard.
You are the bestest student.
page 378
Absolute Concepts
• Don’t use comparatives or superlatives with
absolute concepts, which are adjectives or
adverbs that have only two possibilities with
no levels or degrees in between.
The most perfect student in the class
A more unique idea (say “more unusual”
instead)
more priceless sort of dead
more on very pregnant
quite unanimous extremely perfect
slightly unique completely anonymous
Don’t use adjectives when
adverbs are needed
You did a real nice job.
– (an adjective can’t modify another
adjective)
You did a really nice job.
– (the adverb “really” modifies “nice”)
He did good.
He did well. or
He did a good job.
Come quick!
Come quickly!
pages 381-382
Compound Adjectives
• Two or more adjectives appearing together are
often separated by commas.
Brad’s tiny, tight swimsuit showed off his hairy belly.
• The words “tiny” and “tight” work separately to
modify “swimsuit.”
• Don’t use a comma when the last modifier and
the noun have to go together. Try adding “and.”
If it still sounds OK, the comma is necessary.
Brad’s red sports car can go 120 miles an hour.
• “Brad’s tiny and tight swimsuit” sounds OK, but
“Brad’s red and sports car” sounds wrong. Don’t
use a comma in the second example.
Compound Adjectives
Brad was well known along the
boardwalk. (no hyphen)
His SUV was fully equipped.
Brad worked full time on his tan.
Brad was a well-known jerk.
(hyphenated)
He drove a fully equipped SUV.
Brad was a full-time chick magnet.
• Connect the words with a hyphen when they function together
before a noun.
Brad’s gold-plated piercings stood out against his bright-red
sunburn.
“Gold-plated” and “bright-red” are compound adjectives.
• Do not hyphenate the words when they come after the noun
they modify, and do not hyphenate -ly adverbs.
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Misplaced Modifiers
cause confusion; not
clear what they are
modifying because they
are located too far from
the word(s) they are
modifying
To avoid confusion, put
modifiers as close as
possible to the word(s)
they modify.
pages 390-391
Misplaced Modifiers
• Put adjectives and adverbs close to the
words they modify. Notice how the meaning
can change:
An old pile of clothes is on the floor.
A pile of old clothes is on the floor.
I almost believe you are finished.
I believe you are almost finished.
The winners will only be contacted.
Only the winners will be contacted.
I can’t quite do this as well as Fred.
I can’t do this quite as well as Fred.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
Misplaced Modifiers
• The following LIMITING MODIFIERS often
cause confusion, so be careful with them:
almost just nearly simply
even hardly merely only
page 391
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Explain the meaning of
each sentence:
• Almost everyone in the
class passed the calculus
exam.
• Everyone in the class
almost passed the
calculus exam.
• Which sentence indicates
that everyone in the class
FAILED the exam?
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Explain the meaning of
each sentence:
• John nearly earned $100.
• John earned nearly $100.
• Which sentence indicates
that John earned some
money?
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Misplaced Modifiers: Phrases
Consider the
different meanings
of the following
sentences:
The dog under
the tree bit
Carrie.
vs.
The dog bit
Carrie under the
tree.
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Misplaced Modifiers
are sometimes used
for comic effect:
“The other day I shot an
elephant in my pajamas. How
he got in my pajamas, I'll
never know.”
-- Groucho Marx
Still, you don’t want to be
unintentionally funny!
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
How might you correct the
following sentence?
Julia called her
adorable kitten opening
the can of tuna and
filled the food bowl.
Better: Opening the can
of tuna, Julia called her
adorable kitten and filled
the food bowl.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
How might you correct the
following sentence?
Portia rushed to the store
loaded with cash to buy
the birthday gift.
Better: Loaded with cash,
Portia rushed to the store
to buy the birthday gift.
Or: Portia, loaded with
cash, rushed to the store
to buy the birthday gift.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
Dangling Modifier
• a word or phrase that modifies
something that has not been stated
clearly within the sentence
♦ often occur at the beginnings and
ends of sentences
♦ often indicated by an -ing verb or
a to + verb phrase
Purdue University
Writing Lab
Dangling Modifiers
Having finished dinner, the
football game was turned on.
Having finished dinner, Joe
turned on the football game.
Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab
Dangling modifiers can be
repaired by:
♦ using the person or thing being modified
as the subject of the main clause:
Having finished dinner, Joe turned on the
football game.
♦ adding the subject of the action to the
dangling phrase:
After Joe finished dinner, he turned on the
football game.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
How might you correct the
following sentence?
Playing solitaire on the computer for
three hours, Michael’s paper was
not completed.
Better: Playing solitaire on the
computer for three hours, Michael
did not complete his paper.
Better: Because Michael played
solitaire on the computer for three
hours, he did not complete his paper.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
How might you correct the
following sentence?
Locked away in the old chest,
Richard was surprised by the
antique hats.
Better: Locked away in the old
chest, the antique hats surprised
Richard.
Better: The antique hats locked
away in the old chest surprised
Richard.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
How might you correct the
following sentence?
To work as a loan officer, an education in
financial planning is required.
Better: To work as a loan officer, one
is required to have an education in
financial planning.
Even better: If a person wants to
work as a loan officer, he or she
must have an education in financial
planning.
Purdue University
Writing Lab
How might
you correct
the following
sentence?
After eating the cayenne-pepper chocolate bar, it
made me sick.
Better: After eating the cayenne-pepper chocolate
bar, I felt sick.

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Adj.adv.modifiers

  • 2. What are adjectivesadjectives? Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns. They can tell “Which one?” or “How many?”  A hot day  A happy camper  A silly twit  A big, bloody mess (both “big” and “bloody” modify “mess”)  She is creative (“creative” is a subject complement that follows the linking verb “is”)  A boring course (present participle used as an adjective) Articles (a, an, the), numbers, and some pronouns can also serve as adjectives. (See page 376.)
  • 3. What are adverbs? • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. (See page 381.) • Many adverbs end with -ly • Many adverbs answer the questions “How?” or “When?” Some tell “Where?” and “To what extent?” • All these words are adverbs: Eating quickly (modifying a verb) Trying very hard (modifying an adverb) A really big show (modifying an adjective)
  • 4. Recognizing Adjectives & Adverbs Many words have both an adjective and adverb form Adjective Adverb happy kids play happily smooth rock runs smoothly good food eat well efficient workers work efficiently casual dress dress casually quick meeting talk quickly hopeful children wait hopefully real butter really hot
  • 5. Comparatives and Superlatives (pp. 377- 379) Usually, add -er/more or -est/most. Simple Comparative Superlative Hot Hotter Hottest Good Better Best Exciting More exciting Most exciting Careful Less careful Least careful • comparative = 2 Sally is the larger of the twins. (not largest) • superlative = 3 or more August was the hottest month of the year.
  • 6. How to decide: -er/-est or more/most? • One syllable, use -er or -est: smarter, smartest faster, fastest • Two-syllable adjective that ends in -y, change the -y to -i and add -er or -est: lovelier, loveliest happier, happiest • All other words, use more or most: more beautiful, most beautiful more helpful, most helpful more quickly, most quickly pages 377-378
  • 7. Irregular Adjectives and Adverbs These four words do not use -er/-est or more/most to form the comparative or superlative: Simple Comparative Superlative Good (adj.) Better Best Well (adv.) Better Best Bad (adj.) Worse Worst Badly (adv.) Worse Worst They can be confusing because the adjectiveadjective and adverbadverb forms are the same word. (See pages 379-383.)
  • 8. Avoid Double Comparatives! • NEVER use more or most with -er or -est. Yesterday was more hotter than today. That was the most dirtiest story I ever heard. You are the bestest student. page 378
  • 9. Absolute Concepts • Don’t use comparatives or superlatives with absolute concepts, which are adjectives or adverbs that have only two possibilities with no levels or degrees in between. The most perfect student in the class A more unique idea (say “more unusual” instead) more priceless sort of dead more on very pregnant quite unanimous extremely perfect slightly unique completely anonymous
  • 10. Don’t use adjectives when adverbs are needed You did a real nice job. – (an adjective can’t modify another adjective) You did a really nice job. – (the adverb “really” modifies “nice”) He did good. He did well. or He did a good job. Come quick! Come quickly! pages 381-382
  • 11. Compound Adjectives • Two or more adjectives appearing together are often separated by commas. Brad’s tiny, tight swimsuit showed off his hairy belly. • The words “tiny” and “tight” work separately to modify “swimsuit.” • Don’t use a comma when the last modifier and the noun have to go together. Try adding “and.” If it still sounds OK, the comma is necessary. Brad’s red sports car can go 120 miles an hour. • “Brad’s tiny and tight swimsuit” sounds OK, but “Brad’s red and sports car” sounds wrong. Don’t use a comma in the second example.
  • 12. Compound Adjectives Brad was well known along the boardwalk. (no hyphen) His SUV was fully equipped. Brad worked full time on his tan. Brad was a well-known jerk. (hyphenated) He drove a fully equipped SUV. Brad was a full-time chick magnet. • Connect the words with a hyphen when they function together before a noun. Brad’s gold-plated piercings stood out against his bright-red sunburn. “Gold-plated” and “bright-red” are compound adjectives. • Do not hyphenate the words when they come after the noun they modify, and do not hyphenate -ly adverbs.
  • 13. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Misplaced Modifiers cause confusion; not clear what they are modifying because they are located too far from the word(s) they are modifying To avoid confusion, put modifiers as close as possible to the word(s) they modify. pages 390-391
  • 14. Misplaced Modifiers • Put adjectives and adverbs close to the words they modify. Notice how the meaning can change: An old pile of clothes is on the floor. A pile of old clothes is on the floor. I almost believe you are finished. I believe you are almost finished. The winners will only be contacted. Only the winners will be contacted. I can’t quite do this as well as Fred. I can’t do this quite as well as Fred.
  • 15. Purdue University Writing Lab Misplaced Modifiers • The following LIMITING MODIFIERS often cause confusion, so be careful with them: almost just nearly simply even hardly merely only page 391
  • 16. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Explain the meaning of each sentence: • Almost everyone in the class passed the calculus exam. • Everyone in the class almost passed the calculus exam. • Which sentence indicates that everyone in the class FAILED the exam?
  • 17. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Explain the meaning of each sentence: • John nearly earned $100. • John earned nearly $100. • Which sentence indicates that John earned some money?
  • 18. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Misplaced Modifiers: Phrases Consider the different meanings of the following sentences: The dog under the tree bit Carrie. vs. The dog bit Carrie under the tree.
  • 19. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Misplaced Modifiers are sometimes used for comic effect: “The other day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know.” -- Groucho Marx Still, you don’t want to be unintentionally funny!
  • 20. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? Julia called her adorable kitten opening the can of tuna and filled the food bowl. Better: Opening the can of tuna, Julia called her adorable kitten and filled the food bowl.
  • 21. Purdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? Portia rushed to the store loaded with cash to buy the birthday gift. Better: Loaded with cash, Portia rushed to the store to buy the birthday gift. Or: Portia, loaded with cash, rushed to the store to buy the birthday gift.
  • 22. Purdue University Writing Lab Dangling Modifier • a word or phrase that modifies something that has not been stated clearly within the sentence ♦ often occur at the beginnings and ends of sentences ♦ often indicated by an -ing verb or a to + verb phrase
  • 23. Purdue University Writing Lab Dangling Modifiers Having finished dinner, the football game was turned on. Having finished dinner, Joe turned on the football game.
  • 24. Purdue University Writing LabPurdue University Writing Lab Dangling modifiers can be repaired by: ♦ using the person or thing being modified as the subject of the main clause: Having finished dinner, Joe turned on the football game. ♦ adding the subject of the action to the dangling phrase: After Joe finished dinner, he turned on the football game.
  • 25. Purdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours, Michael’s paper was not completed. Better: Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours, Michael did not complete his paper. Better: Because Michael played solitaire on the computer for three hours, he did not complete his paper.
  • 26. Purdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? Locked away in the old chest, Richard was surprised by the antique hats. Better: Locked away in the old chest, the antique hats surprised Richard. Better: The antique hats locked away in the old chest surprised Richard.
  • 27. Purdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? To work as a loan officer, an education in financial planning is required. Better: To work as a loan officer, one is required to have an education in financial planning. Even better: If a person wants to work as a loan officer, he or she must have an education in financial planning.
  • 28. Purdue University Writing Lab How might you correct the following sentence? After eating the cayenne-pepper chocolate bar, it made me sick. Better: After eating the cayenne-pepper chocolate bar, I felt sick.

Editor's Notes

  1. Rationale: The formal definition of a misplaced modifier is explained in this slide.
  2. Key Concepts: Not all modification problems are in the form of a phrase. These eight words can also cause confusion within sentences.
  3. Activity: The facilitator may ask students to consider the meaning of each sentence and answer the slide’s final question. The second sentence indicates that everyone in the class failed the exam because “almost” modifies the verb “passed.” Everyone “almost passed”--they came close to passing but did not make the grade. In the first sentence, “almost” modifies “everyone.” ”Almost everyone” passed--most people passed, but a few did not. Click after final question to reveal checkmark.
  4. Activity: Again, the facilitator may ask participants to answer the slide’s final question. In the second sentence, “nearly” modifies “$100.” Therefore, “John earned nearly $100”--not quite $100, but perhaps $98. In the first sentence, “nearly” modifies the verb “earned.” “John nearly earned” the money, but he failed to earn it. Click after final question to reveal checkmark.
  5. Examples: The examples in this slide illustrate the importance of the modification phrase or word group. The facilitator may ask students to explain the difference in meaning between the two sentences. The first sentence explains, “That dog under that tree bit Carrie”--the dog is presently located under the tree. The second sentence indicates that the act of biting Carrie occurred under the tree. Depending on the placement of the modification phrase, “under the tree,” the meaning of a sentence can change dramatically. While this is a simple example to illustrate the importance of modifying phrases, the facilitator may invite students to imagine the confusion misplaced modifiers can cause in directions, legal documents, or business letters.
  6. Example: Occasionally, misplaced modifiers can be used for comic effect, as in this famous example from Groucho Marx. The facilitator may note that “in my pajamas” is the modifying phrase in this example.
  7. Activity: The facilitator may ask participants to point out the problem with the first sentence—the kitten is opening the can of tuna. Unless the kitten has opposable thumbs, this is an unlikely scenario. The participant may then ask what the modifying phrase is here—”opening the can of tuna.” This phrase needs to be as close as possible to what it modifies—in this case, Jennifer. The slide offers one option for correction. Another correct option includes, “Jennifer, opening the can of tuna, called her adorable kitten and filled the food bowl.” A series of verb phrases would also be correct: “Jennifer opened the can of tuna, called her adorable kitten, and filled the food bowl.” Click mouse to reveal sample sentence and corrected sentence.
  8. Activity: Again, the facilitator may ask participants to define the problem with the first sentence--the store is loaded with cash. The modifying phrase, “loaded with cash,” needs to be placed as close as possible to what it modifies--Portia. The slide offers one correct option; another is “Loaded with cash, Portia rushed to the store to buy the birthday gift.” Click mouse to reveal sample sentence and corrected sentence.
  9. Key Concepts: This slide offers a formal definition for dangling modifiers.
  10. Activity: The facilitator may ask students which sentence is correct. The second sentence is correct because “Having finished dinner” modifies “Joe.” The first sentence contains a dangling modifier--it sounds like the football game just finished dinner. The subject of the modifying phrase, Joe, is absent from the first sentence. Click to reveal circles around the modified subjects of each sentence.
  11. Key Concepts: There are a couple of ways to repair sentences with dangling modifiers. Each sentence, or independent clause, contains a subject and a verb. The first example refers to the example on the previous slide--the subject, or doer of the action, needs to be placed as the subject of the independent clause. The second example explains the naming of the subject within the dangling phrase.
  12. Activity: The facilitator may choose to have participants describe the problem with the sentence—Michael’s paper has played solitaire for three hours--and offer suggestions for correction. The first option corrects the sentence by placing Michael, the doer of the action, as the subject of the sentence. The second option corrects the sentence by placing “Michael” within the modification phrase. Click mouse to reveal corrected versions.
  13. Activity: The facilitator may again have participants identify the error within the sentence--Richard is locked away in the old chest--and offer corrected versions. The first option is corrected by “antique hats” in the subject position. The second is improved by eliminating the introductory phrase and placing the modifying phrase, “locked away in the old chest,” after “antique hats.” Click mouse to reveal corrected versions.
  14. Activity: The facilitator may pause over this sentence to discuss the error. This sentence begins with a to + verb phrase, or infinitive phrase. In this sentence, the education is going to work as a loan officer. The problem here is that there is no subject to go with the dangling phrase. Participants will need to insert a subject, such as “one,” to correct the sentence. Click mouse to reveal corrected version.
  15. Activity: The facilitator may have students define the problem with the initial sentence--that the “scientists” are the “process that still needs to be refined.” This sentence is best corrected by changing the dangling phrase to a modifying phrase referring to “chemotherapy treatment” at the end of the sentence. Click mouse to reveal corrected version.