What Are The Different Kinds Of Phrase Modifier?


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Amanda Wells answered
A modifier is a word or phrase that gives added meaning to a sentence.

There are several types of modifier - it's easier to recognise them if you remember that a sentence can exist without any modifiers, but cannot exist without a noun (or noun equivalent such as a pronoun) and a verb. So 'Boys play' can be classed as a sentence with no modifiers. If you add determiners ('The' in this case' and any related auxiliary verbs ('are') and participles ('ing') you will get 'The boys are playing' which is still a sentence with no modifiers. You can even say 'The boys are playing in the park' and still manage without modifiers ('in' is a preposition). But as soon as you want to add any description or colour to your sentence, you do need modifiers. The main types are these:

· Adjectives, which describe nouns, for example 'good' or 'big' - 'the good boys are playing in the big park'.
· Adverbs, which describe verbs, eg 'happily' - The boys are playing happily in the park'.

· Nouns can also be used adjectivally, which then makes them modifiers. For example, 'family' is usually a noun, but in the phrase 'family home' it modifies/describes the main noun, 'home' and therefore counts as a modifier.

· Verbs can also be used as modifiers - for example 'We watched the boys playing in the park'. Here, 'We watched the boys' is the basic sentence and 'playing in the park modifies it. (The word 'adverbials' is sometimes used to describe verb modifiers too.)

To take another example: In the phrase 'Blurtit answer' the word 'Blurtit' is a modifier in this case, because it refers to 'a type of answer found on the Blurtit site' or 'an answer meeting the Blurtit standards'. In a sentence like 'He is at his desk, Blurting with his friends', the second part is an adverbial phrase that modifies the first, with the word 'Blurting' meaning 'chatting on Blurtit' or similar.

You can find a lot of grammatical information on the web. Some of it is very helpful, but it's always best to go to a recognised site written by experts. A good start would be the British Council website, though you can also try putting the word ,modifiers' in a search engine and seeing what comes up.

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