Modifiers in phrases

The term modifier is a function label that is used for words or phrases that modify the Head of a phrase. Put differently: a modifier gives more information about the Head; it makes its meaning more specific.

All phrase types can contain modifiers. Here are some examples:

Noun phrase modifiers:

  • big issues
  • small painting
  • very nice passages

Verb phrase modifiers:

  • have always been
  • can actually cheat
  • probably manage

Modifiers inside verb phrases are called Adverbials, though these can also modify clauses.

Adjective phrase modifiers:

  • quite sweet
  • not too large
  • just so predictable

Prepositional phrase modifiers:

  • really in favour
  • right up my street
  • straight down the drain

Adverb phrase modifiers:

  • very quickly
  • more consistently
  • never really

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