English for Academic Studies (Workshop) Session 7: Misplaced ModifiersSemester 1, 2009/10 ©PolyU HKCC2
Part B: Grammatical Sentences - Review Modifiers
– A modifier is a word or groups of words which describes or identifiesanother word or group of words in the same sentence. It can be a single word, a phrase,or a clause.
Modifiers of Nouns
- A modifier may provide more information about a noun.More technically, they could be called “adjectivals”.
Hong Kong is an international city [single word].
Firms from all over the world establish offices in Hong Kong [phrase].
Only those applicants who have passed the English proficiency test will beshortlisted for a second interview [clause].
Modifiers of Verbs
- A modifier may provide more information about a verb.More technically, they could be called “adverbials”.
Having near-native English proficiency can greatly enhance your jobprospects in today’s competitive job market [single word].
In this essay, we will analyse the status of English from multiple perspectives[phrase].
Since the lecturer could establish a friendly atmosphere in the lesson,students participated actively in the class learning activities [clause].
- A modifier which is placed in a wrong position can distort themeaning and thus confuse readers. You may avoid misplaced modifier problems byputting modifiers as close as possible to the words being modified:
Place modifiers such as
even, only, merely, almost, nearly, just
immediately before the words they modify.
The presenter speaks too soft; the audiences sitting in thefront can only hear him. [
intends to modify
Nevertheless,because of its position, it appears to modify
in this sentence.]
The presenter speaks too soft; only the audiences sitting in the front canhear him.
Place clause modifiers beginning with who, which or that immediately after the words they modify.
The student received full marks in the test who is alwayspunctual to the class. [
who is always punctual to the class
intends to modify