What is modifier in English grammar? A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that function as adjectives or adverbs to provide additional information about another word or word group.
Modifiers can play the roles of adjectives or adverbs. Modifiers in English include adjectives, adverbs, demonstratives, possessive, determiners, prepositional phrases, degree modifiers, and intensifiers.
There are two kinds of modifiers, they are premodifiers and postmodifiers. Modifiers that appear before the head are called premodifiers. Modifiers that appear after the head are called postmodifiers.
Modifiers As Adjectives
When a modifier is an adjective, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. In the examples below, the modifiers are shaded, and the words being modified are bold.
- Johnson caught a small mackerel.
In that sentence, the adjective small modifies the noun mackerel.
- Johnson caught another one.
In that sentence, the adjective another modifies the pronoun one.
Modifiers As Adverbs
When a modifier is an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
- Michael accidentally caught a small whelp.
In that sentence, the adverb accidentally modifies the verb caught.
- Michael caught an incredibly small mackerel.
In that sentence, the adverb incredibly modifies the adjective small.
- Michael supposedly accidentally caught a small whelp.
In that sentence, the adverb supposedly modifies the adverb accidentally.
A Modifier Can Be a Phrase or a Clause
We shouldn’t forget that phrases and clauses can play the roles of adjectives and adverbs too.
- George caught a mackerel smaller than a watch.
This is an adjective phrase modifying the noun mackerel.
- George caught a mackerel of tiny proportions.
This is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective. It modifies the noun mackerel.
- George caught a mackerel which was smaller than a watch.
This is an adjective clause modifying mackerel.
- When alone, George tried to catch mackerel.
This is an adverbial phrase of time that modifies the verb tried.
- When we left him alone, George set up his rod to catch mackerel.
This is an adverbial clause of time that modifies the verb set up.
Simaibang, Baginda. 2018. English Grammar for Foreign Learners. Palembang: CV Citra Books Indonesia