• Article graphics | Credit Amazing Adverbs

Premodifiers Used with Degrees of Adjectives

Premodifers can describe or modify an adverbOpens in new window, as it does with an adjectiveOpens in new window.

Premodifiers are words that modify the meaning of an adverb.

Both adverbsOpens in new window and adjectivesOpens in new window in their comparative and superlative forms can be accompanied by premodifiers—single words and phrases—that intensify the degree.

Observe carefully the underlined words in the following sentences:

  • We were a lot more careful this time.
  • We like his work so much better.
  • You'll get your watch back all the faster.

The same means can be used to downplay the degree:

  • The weather this week has been somewhat better.
  • He approaches his schoolwork a little less industriously than his brother does.

And sometimes a set phrase, usually an informal noun phrase, is used for this purpose:

  • He arrived a whole lot sooner than we expected.
  • That's a heck of a lot better.

If the intensifier veryOpens in new window accompanies the superlative, a determinerOpens in new window is also required:

  • She is wearing her very finest outfit for the interview.
  • They're doing the very best they can.

Occasionally, the comparative or superlative form appears with a determiner and the entity being modified is understood:

  • Of all the wines produced in Connecticut, I like this one the most.
  • The quicker you finish this project, the better.
  • Of the two brothers, he is by far the faster.

Misplaced Modifiers

See the study on Misplaced ModifiersOpens in new window for additional ideas on placement.

Modifiers can sometimes attach themselves to and thus modify words that they ought not to modify:

  • They reported that Giuseppe Balle, a European rock star, had died on the six o'clock news.

Obviously, it would be better to move the underlined modifier to a position immediately after “they reported” or even to the beginning of the sentence—so the poor man doesn't die on television.

Misplacement can also occur with very simple modifiers, such as only and barely:

  • She only grew to be four feet tall.

It would be better written:

  • “She grew to be only four feet tall.”
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