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Squinting adverbial modifiers

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By Mary Morel

Squinting adverbial modifiers is a phrase that makes me wonder who invented grammar terms – I find it hard to imagine an adverb squinting!

Adverbs are words that add information to parts of a sentence about time, manner, place or degree (soon, softly, here, deeply). They often end in y or ly (very, abruptly).

Squinting adverbial modifiers have different meanings depending on how you interpret the sentence.

Children who play in the sun often have a high risk of skin cancer.

This sentence could mean that all children who play in the sun have a high risk of skin cancer, or that children who play in the sun a lot are at high risk of skin cancer.

Changing the placement of often would clarify the sentence.

Children who play often in the sun have a high risk of skin cancer.
Children who often play in the sun have a high risk of skin cancer.

Squinting adverbial modifiers are sometimes just called squinting modifiers, but it’s usually the placement of an adverb that causes the problem.

Here’s another example:

Teachers who cancel classes occasionally are reprimanded.

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