Meredith Grammar Review
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Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs are descriptive words or phrases. They are used to clarify, explain, describe and otherwise delimit the meaning of other parts of speech and sentence elements. The challenge is to place them in the correct position in the sentence. Modifiers in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence.
When considering the proper form and placement of a modifier, ask yourself what word or word group is being modified. In English modifiers usually appear before a noun, as in "large house," while in some other languages the modifiers appear after the noun being modified.
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Basic uses of adjectives and adverbs (Bedford 26)
Adjective: She gave the swing a gentle push.
"Gentle" is an adjective that modifies push. What kind of push did she give? A gentle one.
Adverb: She pushed the swing gently.
"Gently" is an adverb that modifies the verb "pushed." How did she push the swing? Gently.
Adverb: She pushed the swing with a gently soothing rhythm.
"Gently" is an adverb that modifies the adjective "soothing." How soothing was the rhythm? Gently soothing.
Although regular adverbs are generally recognized by an "ly" ending, irregular forms can cause confusion. One tricky descriptive pair is "good" and "well." "Good" is the adjective (although it can also be a noun), and "well" is an adverb when it describes how a certain action is done. "Well" can be an adjective when it describes a person's state of health. In that case it is the opposite of "sick" or "unwell."
Adjectives can be formed from verbs; the past participle form serves this purpose. Examples include forgiven, lost, and prejudice. It is correct to say that a person is prejudiced, not that he or she is prejudice.
Complements (Bedford 26 and 62b)
Fear is irrational.
The roast beef smells funny.
Quentin is not as happy as he appears.
Subject complements usually follow a linking verb: is, seems, appears, smells, tastes, feels.
An object complement completes the meaning of the direct object of the clause. Because a direct object is always a noun or a pronoun, it can be modified only by an adjective.
I declare the games finished.
The direct object is "games."
Winston considered the judges careful.
Here Winston is describing the judges as careful. Contrast with "Winston considered the judges carefully." In this sentence, Winston is giving the judges his careful consideration. How, or in what manner, did he consider them? Carefully. The first sentence uses the verb "consider" as a linking verb. How did he consider them? In other words, how did the judges seem to him? Careful. When sometells you to "drive careful," you should really "drive carefully."
Comparatives and superlatives
Karen is the smaller of the twins.
Colleen studied longer than Kate did.
Colleen studied more thoroughly than Kate did.
Superlatives involve a distinction among three or more subjects. They generally end in "est" or follow the qualifying adverb "most."
Bethany is the tallest of the triplets.
Nicole earned the highest grade in the class.
This assumes that there are at least three grades given in the class.
Irregular comparative and superlative forms are learned early in life. We know "good, better, best." and "many, more, most." A dictionary can provide comparative and superlative forms for adjectives. There are a few adverbs which also follow these forms Examples include the following comparative and superlative forms:
To try harder, the hardest
To live longer, longest
To do better, the best
Double negatives (Bedford
Correct: Mariah shouldn't eat any grains
Incorrect: She shouldn't eat no grains.
In fact, readers today may take the opposite meaning from the second sentence, believing that Mariah should eat grains.
We can't do nothing about that misunderstanding.
If the writer means to say that nothing can be done, then the correct form is this:
We can't do anything about that misunderstanding.
The first form suggests that we must do something, that we can't simply sit back and ignore the misunderstanding.