A modifier is a word or phrase that describes something.
There are two common types of modifiers in the English language:
- Adverbs – describing verbs
- Adjectives – describing nouns
Confusion can be caused when a modifier is placed too close to some other word that it does not intend to modify. The result can be humorous, but it is grammatically incorrect. Look at the following examples:
- A woman passed by, leading a springer spaniel in a long black dress.
- Hopping briskly though the vegetable garden, I saw a toad.
- My cousin went on and on, describing the details of her wedding in the elevator.
- The guide found the lion following its trail.
- John and Mary found the flowers hiking up the mountain.
- I found my missing gloves cleaning my room.
- Don’t try to pat the dog on the porch that is growling.
- The photojournalist took a photo of a demonstrator with a long lens camera.
- From our seats we could see the stage clearly in the balcony.
- The guest speaker had dedicated his book to his dog who was an archaeologist.
- I bought the red coat from the shop owner with the large pockets.
- Peering through the trees, the path was evident.
- The smoke alarm went off while cooking my dinner.
- A young woman knocked on the door wearing a suit and a hat.
- My mother found a parcel outside our house tied with ribbons.
- Covered in cream cheese, my friends will love these bagels.
- Reading a book, the cat crawled into my lap.
- The library has several books about dinosaurs in our school.
- We saw a herd of sheep on the way to our hotel in Wales.
- Dipped in cream, many people love fresh strawberries.
- I sent a poster to Jane rolled in a tube.
- While doing the dishes, a mouse ran across the floor.
- I gave olives to my friend that I stabbed with my fork.
- While typing my report, the keys jammed.
- While flying over the lake, the skyscrapers of Chicago appeared in the distance.