Modifiers may be placed before or after the Nouns, Pronouns, or Noun-groups and are used to modify them.

Study the following sentences :

  • The dancing flies are not as pretty as the dancing girls.
  • A blooming flower is nodding in the breeze.
  • I saw a crawling snake.
  • Don’t sit on the broken chair.
  • We noticed a boy falling from the tree.

Note that the words or phrases dancing, blooming, crawling, broken, and falling from the tree are used to modify the Nouns – girl, flower, snake, chair, and boy. They are called Modifiers.


Types of Modifiers

  • Premodifier
  • Postmodifier


A Modifier that is placed before a Noun, Pronoun, or Noun-group is called Premodifier.

Example: The dancing girl. A blooming flower.

Types of Premodifiers

TYPE 1: Determiners

The Determiners, such as A, An, The, This, etc. are used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesA boy is coming here.
The girls are walking side by side.

TYPE 2: Predeterminers

The words which are used before Determiners are called Predeterminers. They may be used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesAll the boys are intelligent.
Both books are out of print

TYPE 3: Adjectives

Adjectives may be used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesAn old man came here today.
The brave boy is Sharmila’s brother.

TYPE 3: Present Participles

Present Participle verb + ing may be used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesDon’t get into a running train.
A growing child needs nutritious food.
The blooming flowers are nice to look at.

TYPE 5: Past Participle

Past Participles verbs ending in -ed/ -en/-t may be used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesThe wounded man was carried to a hospital.
Why are you sitting on a broken chair?
A burnt child dreads the fire.

NOTE: The verb + ing form is used when the noun causes the action, and the verb + -ed/-en/-t form is used when it revives the action. Compare the following:
The boring lecture put the students to sleep.
The bored students went to sleep during the lecture.

TYPE 6: Nouns

A Noun may be used as a Premodifier before another Noun.

ExamplesHe is now at his country house.
The Inspector came to the school on a surprise visit.

TYPE 7: Nominal Compounds

Sometimes Nominal Compounds may be used as Premodifiers.

ExamplesHe is a record-breaking typist.
The rose is a sweet-smelling flower.

TYPE 8: Adverb/Adverbial phrases

Sometimes an Adverb/Adverbial phrase may be used as Premodifiers to modify the whole sentence.

ExamplesYesterday I met a beggar.
Last night I had a sound sleep.

TYPE 9: Prepositional phrases

Sometimes Prepositional phrases may be used as Premodifiers to modify the whole sentence.

ExampleIn the morning, the birds began to chirp.


A Modifier that is placed after a Noun, Pronoun, or Noun-group is called a postmodifier.

ExampleWe noticed a boy falling from the tree.

Types of Postmodifiers

TYPE 1: -ing Participle phrases

The -ing Participle phrases are used after Nouns as Postmodifiers.

ExamplesI watched the plant growing everyday.
Who is the man standing at the door?
I saw an old man looking hopelessly.
They saw the lanterns hanging from the masts of the ships.

TYPE 2: -ed/-t Participle phrases

The -ed/-t Participle phrases are also used after Nouns as Postmodifiers.

ExamplesWe saw a boy injured in an accident.
Lessons learnt easily are not easily forgotten.

TYPE 3: Adjective phrases

The Adjective phrases are used after Nouns as Postmodifiers.

ExamplesThe pretty girl with long hair is my sister.
The old man could not carry the load of heavyweight.

TYPE 4: ‘to’ Infinitive phrases

A ‘to’ Infinitive phrase may be used as Postmodifier.

ExamplesHave you anything to do?
I am the last man to leave the place.
She has a nice pen to write with.

TYPE 5: Nominal clauses

A Nominal clause may also be used as a Postmodifier.

ExamplesThe statement that he is honest is correct.
The report that the girl is missing is true.

TYPE 6: Relative clauses

A Relative clause may be used as a Postmodifier.

ExamplesThe boy who came here yesterday is my friend.
This is the place where Raja Rammohun Roy was born.

TYPE 7: Adverbial clauses

An Adverbial clause may be used as a Postmodifier.

ExamplesYou may go where you like.
You may come when you wish.

TYPE 8: Adverb/Adverbial phrases

An Adverb/Adverbial phrase may be used as Postmodifier.

ExamplesHe was driving very fast.
The boy speaks very slowly.

TYPE 9: Prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases may also be used as Postmodifiers.

ExamplesShe was swimming in the pool.
I bought a book at the bookstore.

So, we see from the above examples that a Modifier tells the condition of a Noun. It may also tell the time, place, or manner of a Verb.

Examples of Modifiers

The milk is in the refrigerator. Modifier of place (Where is the milk?)
She drove the car on the main street. Modifier of place (Where did she drive?)
We had our dinner at 7 o’clock. Modifier of time (When did we have our dinner?)
She is enjoying TV tonight. Modifier of time (When is she enjoying TV?)
He was running very fast. Modifier of manner (How was he running?)

Illogical Participal Modifiers

A Participial Phrase (i.e. a verb + ing without auxiliaries can be used to join two parts of a sentence with a common subject or without a common subject. However, it may cause confusion or a change in meaning if they are not placed properly. Such Illogical Participial Modifiers are incorrect.

Example: Going to market, Biltu bought a dozen bananas.

He saw a dead cow walking in the field.Walking in the field, he saw a dead cow.
Plunging into the water, the drowning Plunging into the water, a man rescued child was rescued by a man.Plunging into the water, a man rescued the drowning child. [The actual subject of plunging’ is ‘a man’.]
Guiding us through the museum, a special explanation was given by the director.Guiding us through the museum, the director gave us a special explanation. [Guiding- while the director was guiding]


RULE 1: Sometimes, the Participial Phrase is preceded by a Preposition. The following prepositions precede participial phrases.

after-before – by – upon – while

After jumping out of the boat the shark bit the man.After jumping out of the boat, the man was bitten by a shark. [The actual subject of the verb ‘jumping’ is the man’, not the shark.)
Before reciting a poem, the school song was sung by the students.Before reciting a poem, the students sang the school song.

RULE 2: If only the verb + ing appears in the Participial Phrase, the tense of the sentences is determined by the Tense of the Verb in the Main Clause; the two actions generally occur simultaneously.

Verb + ing … +Noun + Verb

Practicing the exercises on grammar, Rabeya hopes to learn correct English.Getting a terrible toothache, Mini called the dentist for an appointment.Finishing the letter tonight, Bina will mail it tomorrow morning.

RULE 3: The Perfect form [having + verb in the Past Participle] is used to indicate that the action of the Participial Phrase took place before that of the Main Verb.

having + Verb in Past Participle… +Noun + Verb

ExamplesHaving finished their supper, the boys began to gossip.
[Having finished = After the boys had finished…….]
Having written his composition, Mahasin handed it to his teacher.
[Having written = After Mahasin had written ……..]
Not having read the book, she could not answer the questions.
[Not having read = Because she had not read ……..]

RULE 4: The Participial Phrase can also be used in the Passive Voice if the Subject is not responsible for the action.

having + been + Verb in the past participle……. + Noun + Verb

ExamplesHaving been notified by the court, Manika surrendered herself.
[After Manika had been notified ………..]
Having been delayed by heavy rain, we missed our connecting train.
[After we had been delayed ………..]
Not having been notified of the change of time, they arrived late in the meeting
[Because they had not been notified ………..]

Now, we see a Noun may be modified by: Pre modifier and Postmodifier

The words before the Head Noun are Premodifiers. The words after Head Noun are Postmodifiers.

Noun Modifiers & Head Nouns

A large lovelygarden——–
Beautifulflowerslike stars
Alinnetsinging outside
The most beautifulbirdin the world
An industrialcropof importance
Many fatgentlemenat Ealing
FamousJob Charnockthe founder of Kolkata

Modifiers Exercise

Find out Premodifiers in the following sentences :

  • Only hard-working students will pass the examination.
  • They carried the wounded boy to the hospital.
  • Point out the jute-producing areas.
  • You know milk is a balanced food.
  • The beautiful girl has a smiling face.

Find out Postmodifiers in the following sentences :

  • I found a man standing at the door.
  • The boy, walking in the garden, is my cousin.
  • The ants eat their stored food in winter.
  • We can eat lunch in this restaurant today.
  • Henry is washing dishes right now.
  • Locate the place where you were born.
  • The frightened child began to cry when he was left in the haunted house.

You Asked, We Listened – List of All Grammar Chapters Updated 😍😍

Also, Read

Time and Tense

Time and Tense







Nominal Compound

Nominal Compound

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