Limiting Modifiers

What Are Limiting Modifiers? (with Examples)

Limiting modifiers impose restrictions on the words they modify. The most common limiting modifiers are:

Positioning of Limiting Modifiers

The word (or words) a limiting modifier governs is usually immediately to its right in a sentence. In each example below, the limiting modifier is shaded, and the word it governs is in bold.

In speech, you will often get away with misplacing a limiting modifier. However, in formal writing, you should spend a few seconds to think about where to position your limiting modifier. The most common mistakes happen with the word only.

Look at these examples: Most people would take the meaning of the second example to be the same as the third example (especially if spoken). However, for the meaning nothing but ice-cream, the second example is a mistake. So, technically speaking, we have to say these famous quotes are wrong:

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See Also

What are modifiers? What is a misplaced modifier? What is a dangling modifier? What is a squinting modifier? What are determiners? What are intensifiers? Glossary of grammatical terms