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Modifiers: The Good, the Bad, and the Badly
Grammatical and Lexical Items
"I've put together a little something about adjectives and adverbs to quiz your knowledge about words and phrases used as modifiers in the English language. All questions and answers use Standard American English rules of grammar."
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
An adjective is that part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun, often by explaining what kind or which one. Which of the four words below is an adjective in the following sentence?
"Betsy asked the guide on the safari if he had ever encountered an honest cheetah."
Adjectives don't have to be single words; they can also be phrases (groups of words). Which group of words in the following sentence is an adjective phrase?
"Squeezing the can, he looked at me with disappointment and told me that he did not think that the baked beans were ripe."
That he did not think
Squeezing the can
An adverb is that part of speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, often by explaining how, where, when, why, or to what extent. Which of the four words below is an adverb in the following sentence?
"Everett crabbily demanded that someone pass him the plate of seasoned shellfish."
As I mentioned above, an adverb doesn't have to be limited to modifying only verbs; they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. With that in mind, which word in the following sentence is an adverb?
"I found the book 'The Celery Stalks at Midnight' by Paige Turner to be a very suspenseful novel."
Now for something a little bit different. ... From the list below, which pair of words would correctly fill in the blank in the following sentence?
"Chairman Meow, Emily's prize-winning cat, darted _________ after the frantic mouse."
While English speakers often confuse "real" and "really," perhaps they have an even more difficult time with "good" and "well." Which is the correct word to fill the blank in the following sentence?
"Richard, the human cannonball, performed his job so _______ at the circus that no one else was of his caliber"?
In this case, either "well" or "good" is correct.
Adjectives and adverbs possess a quality that allows a speaker to compare two or more items to a higher or lesser degree. When taking advantage of this quality, a speaker will have to add a suffix to the modifier or add a word before the modifier. What word would correctly fill the blank in the following sentence?
"Between Houdini and Truman, Houdini is definitely the _________"?
None of these
When using the comparative form (comparing two items) and the superlative form (comparing more than two items), one must also correctly decide whether to use a suffix (-er/-est) or place a word (more/most/less/least) before the adjective or adverb. Which of the words below represents an INCORRECT form?
"When the chick saw that its mother had produced a tangerine instead of an egg, it said, 'That is absolutely the most prettiest orange mama laid.'" Aside from the torturous pun, what else is wrong with this sentence?
"Prettiest" should be spelled "prettyest"
"Most prettiest" should be "most pretty"
"Most prettiest" should be "more prettier"
"Most prettiest" should be "prettiest"
Some adjectives and adverbs are irregular, meaning they become other words to express the comparative and superlative forms. For example, "good" and "well" both become "better" for the comparative form and "best" for the superlative. What about "bad" and "badly"? What is the correct word to complete the following sentence: "The _______ calamity ever to befall someone in the dry cleaning business is for him or her to be depressed."
Let's try "ill." What is the correct form of the word "ill" to complete the following sentence?
"When a man rushed into the doctor's office and complained that he was shrinking, the doctor replied, 'You'll have to be a little patient; I am treating a person who is ________ than you are right now.'"
Sometimes even regular adjectives and adverbs in comparative or superlative form can be a headache. What properly goes into the blank in the following sentence?
"Apparently, the Marxists could drink horrible tea _________ than they could quality tea, for they believed that all proper tea is theft."
One other difficulty writers have with modifiers is caused by the confusion of where to place descriptive words and phrases. If a writer places a modifying phrase in a sentence but fails to give that modifying phrase anything to describe, then that writer is said to be guilty of a dangling modifier. In the following sentence, what would be the dangling modifier?
"While telling a joke to my roommate, a cockroach scurried across my apple pandowdy and onto my serviette."
While telling a joke to my roommate
Onto my serviette
Across my apple pandowdy
A cockroach scurried
A misplaced modifier, on the other hand, has something to describe in the sentence but is not placed correctly in the sentence. Which of the following sentences does **not** have a misplaced modifier?
Holding the half dollar coin in her hand, Katie flippantly asked whether I wanted heads or tails.
At 5:00 AM, Regan starts preparing for another busy day as an executive in her bathroom.
Because she is now housebroken, Sarah can take her dog anywhere she goes.
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
Again, placement of modifiers is extremely important. Which sentence below is the only sentence that makes the point that Eliza tells Larry she loves him but does not really mean what she is saying?
Eliza said that only she loves Larry.
Eliza said that she loves only Larry.
Eliza only said that she loves Larry.
Only Eliza said that she loves Larry.
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Compiled May 18 13