GrammarPhile Blog

QUIZ: Do You Know How to Use Modifiers Correctly?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Nov 22, 2017 7:30:00 AM

quiz-2058888_640.pngA modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adjective or an adverb to describe a word or make its meaning more precise; it describes or modifies other words or parts of a sentence. Before you take the quiz below, here’s a quick refresher about the types of modifiers, and some common mistakes writers make when using them.

Types of Modifiers

Stacked Modifiers

Stacked modifiers include multiple words that are typically hyphenated, and are also known as “compound modifiers,” “double-word modifiers,” and phrasal adjectives.


  • over-the-counter medicine
  • two-faced person
  • elderly American man
  • twenty-three-year-old graduate

Squinting Modifiers

Squinting modifiers are also known as “two-way modifiers” and “ambiguous modifiers.” They can describe the noun that’s in front of them or the noun that’s after them in a sentence.


  • Writing an email clearly will improve your business communications. 
    • “Clearly” could modify either “writing an email” or “will improve your business communications.”
  • What you hear on the radio often you will believe.
    • “Often” could modify either “what you hear on the radio,” or “you will believe.”

Limiting Modifiers

Limiting modifiers impose restrictions on the words they modify, and they usually go immediately before the word or words they modify.


  • almost
  • even
  • hardly
  • just
  • merely
  • nearly
  • only
  • simply

Common Modifier Mistakes

Misplaced Modifiers

Modifiers in a sentence should generally be placed as close to the noun, word, or phrase they’re intended to modify. Misplaced modifiers can cause confusion (or sometimes a good laugh) when they’re placed too far from the noun they’re modifying.

Consider the following example:

My grandparents gifted a puppy to my baby brother they call Rufus.

In the above sentence, it’s unclear whether the puppy is named Rufus or the baby brother is called Rufus.

Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier doesn’t logically or grammatically refer to anything in a sentence, because the word or phrase it’s meant to describe or modify is missing or is too far away from it in the sentence.

Consider the following example:

Studying the dense textbook in a sleepy state, nothing was remembered for the quiz.

In the above sentence, it’s unclear who was studying for the quiz.

Do you think you’re ready to test your knowledge? Are you ready to see if you know how to correctly use modifiers? Take the quiz below to find out.



Topics: modifiers, misplaced modifiers, dangling modifiers, squinting modifiers

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