What Are Modifiers? (with Examples)

A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause which functions as an adjective or an adverb to describe a word or make its meaning more specific.

Examples of Modifiers

Modifiers can play the roles of adjectives or adverbs.

Modifiers As Adjectives

When a modifier is an adjective, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. (In these examples, the modifiers are shaded, and the words being modified are bold).

Modifiers As Adverbs

When a modifier is an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. For example:

A Modifier Can Be a Phrase or a Clause

Don't forget that phrases and clauses can play the roles of adjectives and adverbs too. For example: As shown by these examples, a modifier can come before whatever it modifies (called a premodifier) or afterwards (called a postmodifier).

Read more about adjective phrases.
Read more about adjective clauses.
Read more about adverbial clauses.
Read more about adjective phrases.

A Quick Test


A modifier is best placed alongside whatever it's modifying. If your modifier is too far away, it could lead to an ambiguous or wrong meaning (first example below). Also, be aware that occasionally a modifier might feasibly modify two ideas in the same sentence (second example). Also, it is a very common mistake (believe it or not) for the thing being modified to be missing from the sentence (third example).

Read more about misplaced modifiers.
Read more about squinting modifiers.
Read more about dangling modifiers.

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See Also

What are misplaced modifiers? What are dangling modifiers? What are squinting modifiers? What is a limiting modifier? What are prepositional phrases? What are indefinite adjectives? What are interrogative adjectives? What are predicate adjectives? What are possessive adjectives? What are articles? What are compound adjectives? What are demonstrative adjectives? What are possessive adjectives? Glossary of grammatical terms