There are multiple worksheets that cover modifiers. When you complete this one, be sure to move on to the next.
What is a modifier?
A modifier is a word or phrase that explains or describes other words in a sentence. There are two kinds of modifiers: adjectives and adverbs. Phrases and clauses can also be modifiers. Modifiers make writing more colorful.
While nouns and verbs give the sentence their main structure by telling what the sentence is about and what is happening, modifiers add interest by describing the nouns and verbs.
In the following paragraph, the underlined words are modifiers. Notice what they add to the writing.
One of nature’s worst storms moved slowly toward the unprotected land. Worried people were preparing for this hurricane. It would hurl powerful winds and mountainous waves at them. Already, gigantic waves were beating savagely against that shore. One town was nearly empty. Wisely, its people had run toward higher land far away from the dangerous sea.
In this worksheet we will discuss adjectives and adverbs and prepositional and verbal phrases used as modifiers.
An adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun or pronoun. Using adjectives when you write helps paint a clearer picture. Usually adjectives come just before the word they describe.
Adjectives answer three questions about a noun or pronoun:
The employees were having a celebration. Which employees?
The department store employees were having a celebration.
The friends ordered pizza to share. How many pizzas?
The friends ordered three pizzas to share.
There was a crowd at the carnival. What kind of crowd?
There was a noisy crowd at the carnival.
The adjective department store describes employees, three describes pizza, and noisy describes crowd.
Let’s try a few:
Find the adjectives (s) in each sentence and type it (them) in the box.
1. The ferocious dog ran after us as we rode our bikes down the narrow street.
2. The frightened child screamed as the big, black dog approached.
3. The football game was nearly over when the losing team came from behind to win.
4. We looked everywhere for the missing files.
5. The early customers get the good discounts.
6. The Halloween costumes were the funniest I had ever seen.
7. The blue comforter belongs in the back bedroom.
8. A careless person broke the fragile antique chair.
9. We had a high utility bill and had to turn down the heat.
10. We needed help carrying the heavy packages down the rickety steps.
Answers: 1. ferocious, narrow; 2. frightened, big, black; 3. football, losing; 4. missing; 5. early, good; 6. Halloween, funniest; 7. blue, back; 8. careless, fragile, antique; 9. high, utility; 10.heavy, rickety (back to top)
Sometimes nouns are used as adjectives: Marian’s cat, airplane ride, and school mascot. Marian, airplane, and school are nouns, but they describe nouns, also, so they are adjectives in these examples.
Some pronouns like each, some, and whose are used as adjectives, too, when they describe or modify a noun.
PRONOUN: Each did the assignment.
ADJECTIVE: Each person did the assignment. (Each describes person and answers the question which one?)
PRONOUN: Some have gone to their dressing rooms.
ADJECTIVE: Some actors have gone to their dressing rooms. (Some describes actors and answers the question how many?)
PRONOUN: Those are on the table.
ADJECTIVE: Those gloves are on the table. (Those describes gloves and answers the question which one?)
TIP: If pronouns are used as adjectives, they always precede a noun.
Decide whether the italicized word is used as a pronoun or adjective.
1. Both missed the target.
2. We stuffed a Christmas stocking with candy and toys for each one of the children.
3. Many high schools emphasize sports.
4. One should study about a state or country before visiting it.
5. Some kinds of seaweed are used as ingredients in ice cream.
6. The detective questioned both suspects for hours.
7. Sandra found another way to work the problem.
8. Each gave an incredible performance.
Answers: 1. pronoun (There is no noun after both); 2. adjective (describes the word one); 3. adjective (describes the noun high schools); 4. pronoun (does not describe a noun or pronoun); 5. adjective (describes kinds); 6. adjective (describes suspects); 7. adjective (describes way); 8. pronoun (does not modify or describe a noun or pronoun) (back to top)
If you need more help with modifiers, check out the following websites.
Pre-GED Writing Skills, (1995), NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., Lincolnwood, Illinois
GED Test 1: Writing Skills, (1994), Contemporary Books, Inc. Chicago, Illinois
Exercising Your English, Language Skills for Developing Writers, Book 1, (1991), Contemporary Books, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
Applied Communication Skills/Grammar Skills, (1996), Cambridge Adult Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Language Exercises, Book F (1990) Steck-Vaughn Company, Austin, Texas
Cambridge GED Program Writing Skills, ( 1993), Cambridge Adult Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Cambridge Exercise Books, Parts of Speech, English Skills Practice, (1998) Cambridge Adult Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey