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 Modifiers (“describing words”)
o Adjectives and adverbs
o Can be single words or can be phrases (can
do double duty as prepositional phrase)
o Adjectives modify (or “describe”) nouns and
 Adjectives tend to answer the questions
Which one? In a way, adjectives give up a
way to distinguish one noun (person,
place, thing) from another.
 Which car? The fast car…. not the
slow one… or the red one… or the
expensive one… but the fast one
 Which roses? The yellow, longstemmed roses gathered in a bunch
… not the red, miniature roses
collected in that vase
 Other questions that adjectives
“answer:” What’s it like? What color is it?
How does it look? What kind of ----? What
does it sounds like? How big is it? What
does it feel like? What does it taste like?
what it smells like, how heavy is it, what
color it is
 Examples: John’s sloppy room, brandnew television set, an adorable dress,
 Many adjectives are formed from other
root words. Common suffixes for
adjectives: -ic, -y, -istic, -ical, -ful, -iful. –
iac, -ious, -ous, -ial, -able, -ish, -ive, etc.
 “magic” becomes “magical”
 “beauty” becomes “beautiful”
 “space” becomes “spatial” or
 “doubt” becomes “doubtful”
 Dictionaries will give you the
adjective forms of words that can be
o Ironically, adjectives can be overused and
lead to some very non-descriptive writing,
especially when they rely on opinion or
perception. (Examples of unhelpful
adjectives: pretty girl, hard job, bad movie.)
Therefore, good writers use them in
moderation, use them in combination with
details and good development. They also
tend to use more verbs than adjectives.
o There are special adjectives called
possessive adjectives. They show
“ownership,” or “possession,” or at least
that’s the way grade school teachers
explain it.
o Most possessive adjectives are generally
nouns that have been turned into
adjectives by use of apostrophes and the
letter “s.” The purpose behind the
conversion is to show that something
belonging to somebody. (Example:
“Father” is a noun. “Father’s” is a
possessive adjective. The phrase “my
father’s pipe” is intended to convey the fact
that the writer’s father owns a pipe.)
 Most possessives are created by adding
“-‘s” to a word. However, some
words—like proper names and lots and
lots of plurals--already end in “s,” so, in
that case, usually all that’s needed is to
add the apostrophe. Look this up in
your book or a grammar handbook and
familiarize yourself with enough
examples so you see the patterns that
o Possessive-case pronouns are “pre-done.”
They don’t need apostrophes.
 My, mine, our, ours, his, her, hers,
you, yours, their, theirs, its
You can’t create plurals with
o Adjectives in yellow often go directly in
front of the word(s) they modify in blue.
However, in a sentence with a linking verb,
they often end up in the predicate.
 My green dress
 My car is making a strange sound.
 He bought a fancy new Lexus decked
out with all sorts of expensive options
and extras.
 The British spy was tried for treason
The spy who was tried for treason was
He is both intelligent and interesting.
o Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other
 They tend to answer the questions
When? Where? Why? How often? In
what fashion? With whom? For what
reason? To what degree? How ____ is
Common suffixes for adverbs
transformed from other root words: -ly
 “slow” becomes “slowly”
 “fashion” (noun) becomes
“fashionable” (adjective) becomes
 Special adverbs: “too,” “very,” “really,”
“so,” “way,” “far,” “rather,” “quite,”
“extraordinarily,” “extremely,” and
“especially .” These special adverbs are
called intensifiers. They are adverbs that
go with adjectives. A joke might be
described “funny” (an adjective) or
“incredibly funny” (an adverb + adjective)
if it went over with an audience very well.
 -ly is the most common suffix for adverbs
but lots of adverbs go beyond one word in
length and are, for that reason, called
adverbial phrases. (Examples: “around the
corner,” “every day after school,” and “once
or twice a day”)
 Adverbs in yellow often go directly
before or after the word(s) they modify in
 The children played chess quietly.
 The children quietly played chess.
 The children played chess in the living
 Yesterday, the children played chess
without fighting, but today they
bickered endlessly about whose turn it
 Since it was too hot to play outdoors,
the children stayed indoors and quietly
played chess.