GMAT Study #1 Grammar – Modifier Strategy

[This is a summary of a book chapter. Please purchase the book if you like the content. The name of the book is “Sentence Correction – GMAT Strategy Guide” from the Manhattan GMAT. The book is listed in the end of this posting.]

Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives modify only a noun and a pronoun.


Adverbs modify almost anything but a noun or pronoun.

GMAT provides two grammatically correct phrasing.

Adjective + Adjective + Noun

Adverb + Adjective + Noun

Position of Noun Modifiers

A noun and its modifier should touch each other.

  • If the modifier is next to the different noun than it modifies, it is a Misplaced Modifier.
  • If a noun that the modifier modifies does not in sentence, it is a Dangling Modifier.

Watch Out for Possessive

Modifiers cannot normally modify a noun in the possessive case.

Noun Modifier with Relative Pronouns


  1. Sometimes follows prepositions.


  1. Must modify things, not people.
  2. Can be dropped when the modified noun is the object of the modifying clause.


  1. Must modify people.
  2. Uses as a subject of the verb in a relative clause.


  1. Must modify people.
  2. Sometimes follows prepositions.
  3. Uses as an object of the verb in or of a preposition.
  4. Can be dropped when the modified noun is the object of the modifying clause.


  1. To modify a noun place, not a “metaphorical” place.


  1. To modify a noun event or time. “in which” also can be used to replace “when” in such occasion.

Essential vs. Non-essential Noun Modifiers

Essential modifiers provide necessary information to identify the noun.

Non-essential noun provides extra information.

Put COMMAS between NON-ESSETNTIAL modifiers and their nouns.

Put NO COMMAS between ESSENTIAL modifiers and their nouns.

Use commas with non-essential modifiers, but not with essential modifiers.

Verb Modifiers

Verb modifiers do not have to obey the Touch rule as the Noun modifiers.

Which vs. Present Participle –Ing

Use WHICH only to refer to the noun immediately preceding it – never to refer to an entire clause.

The –ING form is very flexible. It can modify verbs and their subjects. It can even modify an entire clause. The –ING form works best when you want to express the result of the main clause.

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