All terms

What is a modifier?

A word or group of words that describes or edits another word or phrase in a sentence.

Modifying Your Prose: A Guide to Modifiers

Modifiers are words or groups of words that provide more detail, description, or clarification to another word or phrase in a sentence. They can take various forms such as adjectives, adverbs, and phrases.

Modifiers can greatly enhance your writing, adding depth and complexity to your prose. However, it is important to use them correctly to avoid confusion or unintended meaning.

When using modifiers, be sure to place them next to the word or phrase they are modifying to avoid ambiguity. For example, 'She served the guests burnt meat' could be interpreted as the guests themselves being burnt unless modified to 'She served the guests meat burnt to a crisp.'

Playing with Words: Teasing Apart Literary Modifiers

Through the clever use of modifying language, authors can add depth, richness, and nuance to their works, creating vivid, memorable snapshots of powerful emotions, characters, and settings.

'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald masterfully uses modifiers to transport the reader into the extravagant, vibrant world of the 1920s, infusing the novel with a sense of vivid realism by playing with language.

For example, the metaphor 'the city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.' Here 'first wild promise' is a powerful modifier which evokes both the excitement and the danger that come from exploring the unknown.

'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

Lee uses descriptive modifiers to create a unique, evocative sense of place, bringing the 1930s Alabama setting of the novel to life on the page.

For example, Scout describes the town of Maycomb as a place where 'Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.' Here, the descriptions serve to build a picture of a sleepy, humid town, where time moves slowly in the oppressive heat.