LITERARY DISCOURSE: Modifiers – Proper and Dangling Part One

So far, we have discussed SENTENCE from different angles – Structural, Functional, Active and Passive. But if it were compared to food, we would admit that the food had been prepared without spices. We therefore need to look at modifiers, which serve as spices for sentences. Indeed, modifiers add beauty, coherence, and flow (of information) to sentences. Conversely, when they are not properly handled, modifiers constitute fertile grounds for ambiguity, incoherence, and absurdity in sentences (Sekyi-Baidoo, 2003). This explains our decision to discuss PROPER AND DANGLING MODIFIERS in this discourse.

Learning Outcomes
After working through this discourse, students and readers should be able to enhance their knowledge of:

  • The meaning of modifiers
  • The use of modifiers
  • The avoidance of dangling and squinting modifiers

A modifier is a word , phrase , or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to limit or qualify the meaning of another word or group of words called the HEAD . Modifiers that appear before the head are called PREMODIFIERS, and those that appear after the head are known as POSTMODIFIERS.

The following sentences exemplify proper use of modifiers. Note that the modifiers under review are in UPPERCASE:

  • A word – Kofi has arrived in Accra HAPPILY. (An adverb modifying the verb ‘arrived’).
  • Phrase – The man IN OUR HOUSE teaches French at Maachandi Institute of Liberal Arts. (A Prepositional phrase modifying the noun ‘man’).
  • Clause – I respect Chalpang, WHO IS AN INTIMATE FRIEND OF MINE. (A relative adjectival clause qualifying the proper noun ‘Chalpang’).

Let us see more examples of modifiers in usage. This way, we would maximize our understanding of how to use them appropriately.

As college writers or ordinary communicators, we have a degree of freedom to decide where to place our modifiers in sentence s. Below are illustrations:

  • We listen to the lecturer attentively.
  • We attentively listen to the lecturer.
  • Attentively we listen to the lecturer.

However, we must be careful to avoid dangling and squinting modifiers in spoken and written communication.

To be continued.
By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Students and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM), Germany – Ghana Campus, McCarthy Hill, Accra and Tamale

Email: [email protected] Tell: 0244755402

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