Modifiers of Modifiers :
Modifiers may themselves be modified.
The chief varieties of such modification are illustrated in the following sentences.
Adjectives or Adjective Phrases may be modified by adverbs or by words or groups of words used adverbially.
1. A very old man came to the door.
2. An exceedingly dangerous curve lay beyond the bridge.
3. This rather odd proposal interested us.
4. The quay is miles long. [Adverbial objective.]
5. At least five different amendments have been offered. [Five is modified by the adverbial phrase at least.]
6. The general, wholly in the dark as to the enemy’s intentions, ordered an advance. [The adjective phrase in the dark is modified by wholly.]
7. Quite at his ease, John began to speak. [At his ease is modified by quite.]
8. Her smile, pathetic in its weariness, quickly faded. [The adverbial phrase modifies pathetic]
9. This sleeve is a good two inches short. [The phrase modifies short.]
Possessive nouns may be modified by adjectives or by possessives.
1. The poor man’s days are numbered.
2. Honest Tom’s face shone with delight.
3. The faithful animal’s head drooped.
4. My uncle’s barn is on fire.
5. John’s brother’s name is Reginald.
Appositives may be modified by adjectives or by groups of words used as adjectives.
1. Joe, the old butler, met me at the station.
2. Sam, the cunning rascal, had stolen the oars.
3. Her mother, a woman of fashion, sadly neglected her.
4. The other, the man at the table, laughed rudely.
5. Ferdinand Oliver, the engineer who had charge of the construction, proved incompetent.
6. Two Englishmen, friends whom I visited last summer, are coming to New York in December.
Adverbs or Adverbial Phrases may be modified by adverbs or by words or groups of words used adverbially.
1. Jane plays very well.
2. Robert spoke almost hopefully.
3. She answered quite at random.
4. I write to him at least once a year.
An adjective may be modified by an infinitive.
1. Unable to move, I suffered torments of anxiety.
2. The sailors, eager to reach the island, plunged into the sea.
3. Reluctant to act, but unwilling to stand idle, Burwell was in a pitiful state of indecision.
Adjective and Adverbial Clauses are very common as Modifiers of Modifiers.
1. Geronimo, an old chief who bore the scars of many battles, led the attack. [The adjective clause modifies the appositive chief.]
2. The servant, angry because he had been rebuked, slammed the door as he went out.
3. The hunter, confident that the deer had not heard him, took deliberate aim.
4. The fugitive, in a panic lest he should be overtaken, made frantic efforts to scale the cliff. [The adverbial clause modifies the adjective phrase in a panic.]
Modifiers of Modifiers :
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