A modifier is a single word or a group of words which can be a phrase or a clause that describes or provides more information about a word in a sentence. The word in the sentence can be a subject, noun, verb, adjective, adverb, object, complement or another modifier. Most commonly, the modifying words are adjectives and adverbs. As adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns, and as adverbs, they modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs.
Modifier as an adjective: He has a nasal voice. Or: His voice is nasal.
Modifier as an adverb: Someone sneezed loudly at the back of the queue.
Although a modifier is an optional element in a clause or sentence, and its removal will not affect the clause or sentence grammatically, it performs an important role in providing a clear and effective expression or a complete and accurate description.
A modifier can be easily misused by misplacing it in a sentence so that it wrongly modifies another word or noun resulting in a misplaced modifier or dangling modifier. To avoid such an eventuality,
a modifier must be placed as close as possible to the word that it modifies.
A modifier can come before or after the noun that it modifies.
“There is a fat baby in that pram.”
“The baby is only plump, not fat.”
The first example shows the adjective fat modifying and coming before the noun baby. The second example uses the linking verb is linking the adjective plump to the subject baby. When a linking verb is used, the modifying adjective will come after the noun that it modifies. As in the first example, plump is a modifier; it modifies the baby in the second example.