In this article we will discuss about the following topics:

  • What are modifiers
  • Modifying Word
  • How to fix the error for Out of Place Word?
  • Phrases, Clauses, and Commas Out of Place
  • Placement of Modifiers
  • Types of Problematic Modifiers


Nouns and verbs make straightforward statements about what things are and what they do. However, the world is not black and white – there are infinite details that need to be expressed.

Modifiers give additional information about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and themselves to make those things more definite.

There are two types of modifiers: adjectives and adverbs.


The adjective and adverb are defined clearly based on the word it modifies and are named as modifying word.

If the modified word is noun then the modifier is Adjective.


  • An outstanding choice for a sovereign summer holiday.
  • These huge apartments are along an inland waterway in a quiet residential area.
  • The friendly resort of Blueeyes with its stunning white sandy beach is only a short walk away.

An adjective modifies a noun. The adjectives here express physical and other qualities (huge, quiet, friendly) and the writer’s opinion or attitude (outstanding, stunning). The adjective residential classifies the area, tells us what type of area it is.


If the modified word is a verb or adjective or any other adverb, then the modifier is Adverb.


  • The car in front of us was a police car.
  • You were getting really impatient.
  • They were going very slowly.
  • They inspected the car thoroughly.
  • Then you decided to overtake.

Here the adverbials add information about the noun car, the adjective impatient, the adverb slowly, the action inspected the car and the clause you decided.


Conclusion: An adjective modifies a noun. Whereas an adverb is a word that is used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective, a verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase.

Thus, knowing types of adjectives and adverbs will be an added advantage in correcting the sentences.


The most common manner is to make sure about descriptive phrase to correctly describe the word.


  • Switch on you the fan.

To fix the error, follow the steps given below.

Step 1: ASK or SKETCH the meaning-What or who to switch on.

Step 2: POSITION- Fix the modifying word near to the word it has to modify.

Step 3: Re-Frame- You, switch on the fan.

Conclusion: Till this section we have seen some of the ways in which English nominal words can be modified. Now, we will take you to the modification of phrases and sentences.

In view of this, special note which we have included in this section can be verified, specifically ‘Adverbial Forms’.


Every section refers to the syntax or construction of sentences, and the phrase or the clause is essential to the sentences because it gives important information that identifies Subject, verb and object. Many times these sentences may or may not include comma.

Example 1:

My son who went to business school just ran a marathon.


The above given example shows the absence of comma in the sentence tells the reader that the speaker has more than one son, and the phrase ‘who went to business school’ is essential to distinguish the son in the sentence from the other sons.

Now, let us include comma and see the changes in the meaning of the same sentence.


Example 2:

My son, who went to business school, just ran a marathon.


In the above example, the speaker is proud to speak about his only son and son’s participation in marathon. So, the phrase ‘who went to business school’ isn’t as important as it is in example 1.

Conclusion: Deciding by considering comma can be tricky, but we’ll get the hang of it with more practice. The either point is to remember that we could deem modifiers by finding the types of construction of modifiers.

So, take a wide look on the section of fix the error of phrasal or clausal modifiers.


Many phrases really loads the sentences with information by supplying extra significance, tying loose strands together, and clearing up area of  uncertainty. But, if the phrases and clauses aren’t correctly placed, things can get undisciplined and confusing.

A key to precise English writing is the proper placement of modifiers within a sentence:

A modifying phrase or clause must clearly modify only one word or group of words, and should be placed as close as possible to the word(s) it modifies.

Incorrect: There is a clay figurine in the museum that is thousand years old.

The above given sentence modifies the word museum by using the clause ‘that is thousand years old’.

Correct: There is a clay figurine that is thousand years old in the museum.

Two kinds of problematic modifiers that exist in placement tests are misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers.



Many sentences in the first glance appear to be correct, but in the second reading, become confusing and unorganized due to misplaced modifiers.

The two most common misplaced modifiers are adverbs and prepositional phrases.

So be careful with ‘however, only, just, even, almost, never, etc.

1)Adverbs with Verbs

Illustration: As mentioned in the adverb forms and adverbial forms, the adverb can be moved within a sentence to modify verb, adjective, or another adverb and also noun phrases.


Consider these three sentences, each with the word just in a different position:

  1. Jenny was just allowed to go back to work.
  2. Jenny was allowed to just go back to work.
  3. Just Jenny was allowed to go back to work.

The placement of the modifier just completely changes the meaning in each of the three sentences. Check it out:

  1. The first sentence means that Jerry was recently allowed to go back to work.
  2. The second sentence means that Jerry was only allowed to go back to work and nowhere else.
  3. The third sentence means that only Jerry and no one else was allowed to go back to work.

When we’re writing, it’s important to put the modifier in the correct position to convey your intended meaning. Pretty amazing that the placement of one little adverb can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence, isn’t it?


2)Prepositional Phrase

Illustration: As mentioned in our section ‘adverbial forms’, the prepositional phrase can modify (pro)noun, adjective or adjectival phrase, and verb as adverbial phrase.

Consider this example:

  1. He saw a house on the top of the hill with the help of  telescope.
  2. He saw a house with the help of telescope on the top of the hill.
  3. He saw a house on the top with the help of telescope of the hill.
  4. With the help of telescope, he saw a house on the top of the hill.

Very confusing isn’t it?

To fix the error first try to answer for ‘He did what, where, with what’

Sketch the idea in brief- With the help of telescope, he saw a house on the top of the hill is correct.

Sentence 1 to 3 positions the telescope with hill, house, top where ideology is incorrect.


3) Adjective Clause

Illustration: As mentioned and dealt with adjective, it becomes our intention to identify the incorrect appearance of adjective or unintended meaning of adjectives.


  1. My wife, which was bought in Coimbatore city, wore her new scarf around her neck.
  2. My wife wore her new scarf, which was bought in Coimbatore city, around her neck.
  3. My wife wore her new scarf around her neck, which was bought in Coimbatore city.
  4. My wife wore, which was bought in Coimbatore city, her new scarf around her neck.

Very hilarious one….

To correct the error sketch the idea in brief – who or what was bought in Coimbatore city

Naturally one can’t buy a wife or her neck, so the correct modifying phrase should be placed near scarf. Hence, the correct choice is ‘My wife wore her new scarf, which was bought in Coimbatore city, around her neck’.


Illustration: These modifiers are always incomplete, in terms of clauses, participles or infinitive phrases

1) Incomplete Clauses

To make clear which word(s) are modified, it is necessary to turn a phrase into clause.

Tip: Always suspect an ‘ing’ word of dangling if it’s near the front of a sentence.

Example 1:

Incorrect: While in my meeting, my mother called me.

The subject or the doer of the action is missing. Bring the subject, sequence the action and correction happens.

Correct: While I was in my meeting, my mother called me.

Example 2:

Incorrect: Running fast to catch the train, my iphone fell out of my pocket.

Sketch the meaning, seems as if iphone is running fast to catch the train.

Correct: While I was running fast to catch the train, my iphone fell out of my pocket.


2) Dangling Participles

A participle that modifies unintended (pro)noun.

Example 1:

Incorrect: We were excited to see a pasture of wildflowers walking through the park.

Are the wildflowers walking through the park?

Correct: Walking through the park, we were excited to see a pasture of wildflowers.

Example 2:

Incorrect: After having declined the dessert, the waiter brought us the bill.

Tip: Hint word ‘us’, the doer is missing.

Correct: Having declined the dessert, we asked the waiter to bring us our bill.

Example 3:

Incorrect: Feeling better, the doctor said I could return to school.

Tip: Who was feeling better, the doctor or the speaker?

Correct: The doctor said, I who was feeling better could return to school.


3) Dangling Infinitives

An infinitive (to + verb), when serving as an adjective, that modifies an intended (pro)noun.


Incorrect: To recover from the accident, the doctor suggested some rest.

Tip: Who is recovering the doctor or the speaker?

Correct: According to the doctor, I need some rest to recover from the accident.


Conclusion: Modifier is not a simple matter; it can ruin the life of the person. Hence, don’t get carried away by looking at hyperactive words of grammar.

Always ASK, Sketch the plan, Modify and Present.