Further elaborations are given in the subsections to this lesson:

A modifier is a single word or a group of words which can be a phrase or clause. It describes or provides more information about another word which is a subject, verb, adjective, adverb, object, complement or another modifier. Modifying words are mostly adjectives and adverbs. As adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns, and as adverbs, they modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. A noun too can be used as a modifier of another noun.

A modifier is an optional element in a clause or sentence. Its removal will not affect the clause or sentence grammatically. A modifier can be easily misused by misplacing it in a sentence so that it wrongly modifies another word or noun. To avoid such an eventuality, a modifier must be placed as close as possible to the word that it modifies.

A modifier can come before or after the noun that it modifies.

 

Examples:

  • A fat baby
  • The baby was fat.

The first example shows the adjective fat modifying and coming before the noun baby. The second example uses the linking verb was linking the adjective fat to the subject baby. When a linking verb is used, the modifying adjective will come after the noun that it modifies. Same as the first example, fat modifies baby in this second example.