Need a brief review of parts of speech
? It might help you to understand modifiers better.
We are used to the notion that adjectives are modifiers. But did you know that verbs can be adjectives? Well, verb forms
, called "verbals," can function as adjectives.
A verbal is an -ing or -ed form of a verb without its auxiliary.
(Gerunds, which are the -ing form also, are nouns, and are covered in Subjects and Verbs.)
The man came running down the hill, pumping
his arms rapidly.
Notice you can move the modifier:Pumping
his arms rapidly, the man came running down the hill.
The little girl entered the room, all decked
out in buttons and bows.
Again: All decked
out in buttons and bows, the little girl entered the room.
Note: These modifying phrases must be clearly attached to their noun; otherwise they're called "dangling modifiers."Wrong
: Whirring and pinging, the man cursed the broken candy machine.
(It's the machine, not the man, that's whirring and pinging.)Right
: Whirring and pinging, the broken candy machine couldn't give the cursing man his item.Wrong
: Clucking like an old hen, the children raced past the crossing guard.
(It's not the children that are clucking like an old hen; it's the guard.)Right
: Clucking like an old hen, the crossing guard struggled to control the children racing past.
These quizzes are self-paced and give you immediate feedback. They are entirely private; no one will know you have taken one.