SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 12: Other Modifier Problems

Adjectives vs. Adverbs


Don’t use an adjective to do the job of an adverb. Adjectives (like green, generous, and gargantuan) are words that modify nouns. Adverbs (like gently, globally, and grossly) are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.


Although the argument was cogent, the modifier in this sentence is intended to answer the question how was it presented? Since it modifies a verb, it is an adverb and should take the -ly form.


An adverb may also be used to modify the statement that a whole sentence makes.


Some people claim that the adverb clearly must modify the verb obscured, and say that it’s illogical for something to be obscured clearly, because obscured is the opposite of clear. However, adverbs can be used to modify the statement as a whole rather than the verb it contains. In this case, Clearly means What follows is a clear and obvious statement, but it’s much more concise, wouldn’t you agree?


Two common modifiers, fast and well, can be used as either adjectives or adverbs. Fast is an adjective in The car is fast, but it is an adverb in He talks too fast, describing how he talks. Well is an adjective meaning healthy in I haven’t been well lately, but it is an adverb in She sings very well, describing how she sings.


Comparative Adjectives and Adverbs


Use the proper form when using comparative modifiers. Comparative adjectives take one of two forms: fast becomes comparative by adding -er to make faster, but adorable becomes comparative by adding more to make more adorable. (Adorabler just doesn’t sound right, does it?)Comparative adverbs almost always start with more as in more rapidly, but some irregular (that is, non “-ly”) adverbs can take -er, as in She runs faster than anyone else in the class.



Some modifiers should not take the comparative form because they are absolutes. For instance, it is illogical for one thing to be more unique than another thing, because unique means one of a kind, and this shows an absolute quality.


Eliminate Redundancy


redundancy is an unnecessary repetition of an idea. Eliminate all redundancies from your writing. To check whether a word or phrase is redundant, reread the sentence without that word or phrase. If the meaning of the sentence remains unchanged, then the word or phrase is redundant.


Since remaining means roughly the same as to go, we don’t need both. Also, to speed means to move quickly, so sped quickly is redundant.

Concept Review 12: Other Modifier Problems

Give the comparative form of each adjective or adverb.

7. Circle the absolute modifiers in the list below.

8. What is the correct comparative form of an absolute modifier?

In each of the following sentences, circle the modifying words or phrases and label them adjectives (ADJ), adverbs (ADV), or sentence modifiers (SMOD).

9. The music was overwhelmingly beautiful.

10. The other store is far less convenient than the one on the corner.

11. David unknowingly picked up the wrong bag.

12. Unfortunately, we could hardly see the band from our awful seats.

13. The best thing to do is to wait patiently.

14. Personally, I vastly prefer bison meat to beef.

15. Most likely, the lacrosse team left on the first bus.

16. I almost never watch television anymore.

17. Cross out any redundant words or phrases in the paragraph below. (Hint: there are at least ten redundancies.)

When we refer back to past history, we can see that whenever a new innovation is introduced for the first time, people rarely accept the whole entire concept, at least not right away. If and when something threatens the ways of the past, people don’t part easily with their old ways. Although not everyone necessarily needs to maintain the status quo, consistency and predictability make people feel comfortable. Even when technology comes up with a way to do things better, people often continue on with their older, less efficient ways. For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to use e-mail while at the same time continuing to correspond via “snail mail.” If they would quickly pause for a moment, they would see that they can communicate more effectively through the Internet—and save some trees!

Worksheet 12: Other Modifier Problems

Correct any modifier problems in the sentences below.

1. The latest political commercials make their points stronger than previous ones.

2. My shirt smelled quite foully after rugby practice.

3. Recent technological advances have made it easier to extract minuscule chemical traces from geological samples.

4. We never usually get to go to such elegant restaurants.

5. Although both of my parents have pretty level heads, my father is the most patient.

6. The third graders weren’t hardly interested in going to the museum after school.

7. I could always sing in front of a crowd easier than I could give a speech.

8. In many areas of the country, wind energy can be converted to electricity even more efficient than fossil energy.

9. I felt surprisingly well after Saturday’s ten-mile run.

10. The microscopic size of the fracture made it more impossible to detect, even with special instruments.

11. The committee had never been so unanimous as they were on the most recent vote.

12. These measures won’t barely address the state’s deficit.

13. The teacher never told us about the test until the day before.

14. We weren’t real sure that the plan would work.

15. Students never usually bother to examine the veracity of the “facts” they are supposed to memorize in history class.

16. Gena’s guess was the most correct of anyone’s in the class.

Answer Key 12: Other Modifier Problems

Concept Review 12

1. gentler

2. more precious

3. more gently

4. more lovely

5. quieter

6. sportier

7. absolutes: impossible, inevitable, ideal, complete, final, universal, entire, sufficient, fatal, unique

8. Trick question! Of course, absolute modifiers are absolute because they have no comparative forms.

9. overwhelmingly (ADV modifying the ADJ beautiful); beautiful (ADJ)

10. other (ADJ); far (ADV modifying the ADJ less convenient); less (ADV modifying the ADJ convenient); convenient (ADJ); on the corner (ADJ prep phrase)

11. unknowingly (ADV); wrong (ADJ)

12. unfortunately (SMOD); hardly (ADV modifying the V see); from our awful seats (ADV prep phrase modifying V see); awful (ADJ)

13. best (ADJ); to do (ADJ infinitive); patiently (ADV)

14. personally (SMOD); vastly (ADV modifying V prefer); to beef (ADV prep phrase modifying V prefer)

15. most (ADV modifying ADJ likely); likely (ADJ); lacrosse (ADJ); on the first bus (ADV prep phrase modifying V left); first (ADJ)

16. almost (ADV modifying ADV never); never (ADV modifying V watch); anymore (ADV modifying V watch)

17. When we refer to history, we can see that whenever an innovation is introduced, people rarely accept the entire concept, at least not right away. When something threatens the ways of the past, people don’t part easily with their old ways. Although not everyone needs to maintain the status quo, consistency and predictability make people feel comfortable. Even when technology comes up with a way to do things better, people often continue with their older, less efficient ways. For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to use e-mail while continuing to correspond via “snail mail.” If they would pause for a moment, they would see that they can communicate more effectively through the Internet—and save some trees!

Worksheet 12

1. The latest political commercials make their points more strongly than previous ones. (Use adverb, not adjective.)

2. My shirt smelled quite foul after rugby practice. (Here, the modifier is an adjective describing the shirt. The verb smelled is acting as a linking verb.)

3. Recent technological advances have made it easier to extract minuscule chemical traces from geological samples. (Correct)

4. We rarely get to go to such elegant restaurants. (The use of never is illogical.)

5. Although both of my parents have pretty level heads, my father is the more patient. (Use more when comparing two things.)

6. The third graders were hardly interested in going to the museum after school. (Double negative)

7. I could always sing in front of a crowd more easily than I could give a speech. (Use adverb, not adjective.)

8. In many areas of the country, wind energy can be converted to electricity even more efficiently than fossil energy.

9. I felt surprisingly well after Saturday’s ten-mile run. (This is okay, but only if you mean that you are in a state of generally good health. If, however, you mean to say that you don’t feel fatigued or achy, it is better to use good rather than well.)

10. The microscopic size of the fracture made it impossible to detect, even with special instruments. (Impossible is an absolute adjective.)

11. The committee had never been so unified as they were on the most recent vote. (Unanimous is an absolute, but unified is not.)

12. These measures won’t address the state’s deficit. (Double negative)

13. The teacher didn’t tell us about the test until the day before. (The use of never is illogical.)

14. We weren’t really sure that the plan would work. (The modifier is an adverb modifying the adjective sure.)

15. Students rarely bother to examine the veracity of the “facts” they are supposed to memorize in history class. (Never usually is illogical.)

16. Gena’s guess was the most nearly correct of anyone’s in the class. (Correct is an absolute modifier, but guesses can approach correctness in varying degrees.)