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What Are Modifiers?

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On November 12, 2021

In simple words, a modifier can be described as something that changes or alters something else in a sentence. A more specific definition for it would be “a modifier is a word that changes, clarifies, qualifies, or limits a particular word in a sentence to add details, clarification, importance, or explanation.

Examples of Modifiers

Modifiers can be descriptive words such as adverbs and adjectives;

Example:                                                                                                                                               He always buys environment-friendly products from the store.
She decided to purchase the sport Ford Mustang.

Modifiers can also be clauses or phases;

Example:
She went out to celebrate with her friends after winning the lottery from a single ticket.
Robert laughed hard when his friend cracked a joke at him.

Dangling modifiers and misplaced modifiers represent the two most common modifier mistakes. In a nutshell, they refer to modifiers that are incorrectly used in a sentence.

dangling modifier in a sentence represents a missing subject whereas a misplaced modifier’s position is too far away from the clause, phrase, or word it aims to clarify, modify or emphasize.

What is a Dangling Modifier?

A dangling modifier takes place when the subject of the modifier isn’t stated in a sentence. Typically, a dangling modifier will include an introductory phrase followed by an incomplete phrase or clause without the envisioned subject.

Dangling Modifier Example

Dangling Corrected
  • Struggling with his injury, the home run couldn’t be hit.
  • As he was struggling with his injury, the home couldn’t be hit.
  • Struggling with his injury, he couldn’t hit the home run.

In the above example, the subject was missing from the introductory phrase; struggling with his injury, so it was misleading. You can fix a dangling modifier by revising the introductory phrase or by rewriting the subjective clause in the active voice.

Read more about Dangling Modifiers and How to Fix Them

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What is a Misplaced Modifier?

When a modifier is placed too far away from the clause, phrase, or word is intended to modify or clarify, it is called a misplaced modifier. It is relatively easy to fix a misplaced modifier by moving it to the right position in a sentence.

Misplaced Modifier Example

Misplaced Corrected
  • He presented a gift to the guest that was expensive.
  • He presented an expensive gift to the guest.
  • He presented to gift that was expensive to the guest.

 

In the above example, the misplaced modifier implied that the guest was expensive. However, moving the modifier to the correct place in the sentence suggested that it was the gift that was expensive.

Read more about Misplaced Modifiers and How to Fix Them

About Alvin Nicolas

Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.