Modifiers - Does It Dangle or Squint or Split?: Grammar Review Study Guide

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Practice exercises for this concept can be found at  Modifiers - Does It Dangle or Squint or Split?: Grammar Review Practice Exercises.

In addition to single-word adjectives and adverbs, modifiers include phrases and clauses that behave like adjectives and adverbs. Without these modifiers, writing and speech would be dull, dry, and boring. Writers use all types of modifiers to enhance their writing by making it more vivid in order to help their readers understand more clearly what they are saying. Of course, you want to present your readers with writing that is interesting and meaningful. Otherwise, why write? Let's see how you can use these other modifiers to enliven your writing that much more.

Phrases and Clauses

Any group of words that expresses an incomplete thought is a phrase. Phrases do not have both a subject and a predicate (a verb). For instance:

      my favorite team [no verb]
      eat popcorn every night [no subject]

Clauses are heavier hitters than phrases. Like phrases, clauses act like a particular part of speech, but they do have a subject and a predicate (verb).

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Prepositions and prepositional phrases show how words relate to one another. Typically, these words will tell where something is or where something is going, with some exceptions. Here are some common prepositions.

There are some compound prepositions as well.

Inside Track

To help you decide whether or not a word is a preposition, you can plug many of them into this sentence, and they should make sense.

    The mouse went _____ it to get the cheese.

Obviously, not all of the prepositions will work. How can a mouse went concerning it? Or except it? Or of it?

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. The noun or pronoun at the end of the phrase is called the object of the preposition (OOP). For instance:

      across the meadow (OOP)
      under the bridge (OOP)
      beyond the Milky Way (OOP)
      for him (OOP)
      after it (OOP)

A prepositional phrase can function as an adjective or an adverb in a sentence, adding color and depth to your writing. For instance:

    An adjective phrase can tell what kind or which one.
      His report about tsunamis was well written. (adjective phrase)
      His tsunami report was well written. (adjective)

The prepositional phrase about tsunamis behaves like an adjective and modifies the noun report.

    An adverb phrase can tell where, when, or how.
      The tennis ball landed on the court. (adverb phrase)
      The tennis ball landed there. (adverb)

The prepositional phrase on the court behaves like an adverb and modifies the verb landed.

View Full Article
Add your own comment