Modifiers are usually placed next to the word they modify. Placed too far from the word it describes, the modifier can end up as misplaced modifier, which is explained later. Adjectives as modifiers come more often before the noun than after it. Adverbs as modifiers occur immediately before or after the verb, and before an adjective or another adverb.

 

Adjective modifying noun

  • It was a dark and stormy night.
  • (Dark is an adjective, so is stormy; they both modify the noun night.)
  • There was a red kite in the cloudless sky.
  • (Red and cloudless are adjectives, and they modify the nouns kite and sky.)
 

Adjective modifying pronoun

  • He was happy with the way things went.
  • (Happy as an adjective modifying pronoun he.)
  • They were tired after a hard day at the worksite.
  • (Adjective tired modifies pronoun they.)
 

Adverb modifying verb

  • He often sees ghosts in his dreams.
  • (Adverb often modifies verb sees.)
  • He did not feel hungry and ate sparingly.
  • (Adverb sparingly modifies verb ate.)
 

Adverb modifying adjective

  • The water wasn’t hot enough to make a drink.
  • (The word enough is an adverb and it modifies the adjective hot)
  • She felt her pulse seemed abnormally fast.
  • (Adverb abnormally modifies adjective fast.)
 

Adverb modifying adverb

  • He now gets home more quickly with his new car.
  • (More is an adverb and it modifies another adverb quickly.)
  • After her illness, she gets tired exceptionally easily.
  • (Adverb exceptionally modifies adverb easily.)
 
Verb Adverb modifying verb
He works on his own. He works efficiently on his own.
They dig to get at the roots. They dig deep to get at the roots.
We ate lots of food. We eat up lots of food.

 

Adjective Adverb modifying adjective
It was 4 a.m. and I was still awake. It was 4 a.m. and I was still wide awake.
We have been patient with him. We have been quite patient with him.
It was dark inside the cave. It was completely dark inside the cave.

 

Adverb Adverb modifying adverb
He finished his homework quickly. He finished his homework very quickly.
She ran fast in the race. She ran amazingly fast in the race.
The dog came immediately when he called. The dog came almost immediately when he called.

 

To be able to distinguish between an adjective and an adverb does help as the following show:

Real is an adjective; really is an adverb.

Examples:

  • Incorrect: The government is aware of the really problems that these people face. (It is incorrect because an adverb does not modify a noun. The word really is an adverb.)
  • Correct: The government is aware of the real problems that these people face. (The word real is an adjective and it correctly modifies a noun problems.)
  • Incorrect: We don’t know what real happened.(An adjective real does not modify a verb happened.)
  • Correct: We don’t know what really happened. (An adverb really modifies a verb happened.)

 

Certain is an adjective; certainly is an adverb.

Examples:

  • Incorrect: Not smoking has certain made a real difference. (Certain is an adjective and an adjective does not modify a verb made.)
  • Correct: Not smoking has certainly made a real difference. (Certainly is an adverb and it modifies the verb made.)
  • Incorrect: Are you quite certainly about what happened?
  • Correct: Are you quite certain about what happened?