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*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Modifiers - Lesson one

Modifiers are words or phrases that add additional information to a sentence.

  1. 1.1 Placing modifiers:

    They must be placed correctly otherwise they create ambiguity (double meaning) and confusion. In their simple form they are words like almost, hardly, even, just, really, but they can also be whole dependent clauses (generally conveying less-essential information) (see lesson on relative clauses).

The guests almost fell into the pool with all their clothes on.

After reading the initial study, even we found the argument unconvincing.

  1. 1.2 Modifier placement changes the meaning or emphasis of the sentence:

    Modifiers must point clearly to the thing they are modifying. Note in the examples below how there are several options for modifier placement and how each changes the meaning slightly, or sometimes makes the sentence illogical.

The guests almost fell into the pool with all their clothes on.

The guests fell into the pool with almost all their clothes on.

*The guests fell into the pool with all their clothes almost on.* (Note: Asterisks signal examples of poor constructions.)

Because only one meaning is ever intended, two of the three examples above and below would inevitably contain misplaced modifiers.

After reading the initial study even we found the argument unconvincing.

After reading the initial study we even found the argument unconvincing.

After reading the initial study we found even the argument unconvincing.

  1. 1.3 Squinting modifiers

    A squinting modifier is one that can ambiguously apply to the thing either before or after it.

*The wage offer that the government thought would satisfy them completely angered the unions.*