Traditional definition: “modifies a noun”
Direct (Attributive) Adjectives
• In the preheadword position we use
determiners, adjectives, and noun-form nounadjectives
• Ex. the ancient marble bathtub • Comma usage: If it is possible to insert and • Ex. an ugly, misshapen suitcase
between the modifiers, use a comma
• Hyphen usage: Hyphens are especially common when
the modifier in the adjective slot is a participle (present or past). Ex. A half-baked idea, a Spanish-speaking halfSpanishcommunity, a bases-loaded home run bases-
• Because participles are verb forms, they are also
often modified by adverbs: this highly publicized event, event, a carefully conceived plan
• The –ly adverbs do not take hyphens; other adverbs
(such as well and fast) do take hyphens fast)
• Other classes of words also need hyphens when the first • • •
modifier applies not to the headword but to the second modifier: high-technology industries highHyphens are needed when we use a complete phrase in the adjective slot: an off-the-wall idea off-theIn certain idioms that fill the subject complement slot, hyphens are usually retained: Her idea seemed off-theoff-thewall to me. The position in a sentence can affect hyphenation: a wellwell -developed paragraph; BUT: The paragraph was well developed. High-technology industry; BUT: The industry Highdid research in high technology.
• An adjectival prepositional phrase helps to
identify a noun or pronoun by answering the questions “Which one?” or “What kind of?”
• The house on the corner is new. • The meeting during our lunch hour was a
waste of time.
Relative (Adjectival) Clauses
• The relative clause identifies the noun or pronoun it • • • •
modifies— modifies—and almost always appears immediately after that noun or pronoun. Example: The arrow that has left the bow never returns. Relative clauses answer the questions “Which one?” or “What kind of?” Relative clauses are introduced by relative pronouns : pronouns: who, whom, which , that OR by relative adverbs : which, adverbs: where, when, why Like other pronouns, the relative pronoun has an antecedent, antecedent , the noun that it refers to and replaces.
Diagramming the Relative (Adjectival) Clause
• The arrow that has left the bow never
• arrow returns • that has left bow
Three Features of the Relative Pronoun
• 1. The relative pronoun renames its
antecedent; in other words, it renames the headword of the noun phrase in which it appears. • 2. The relative pronoun fills a sentence slot in its own clause. • 3. The relative pronoun introduces the clause, no matter what slot it fills.
• In referring to people, we use who rather than that, and • • •
we use whom, the objective case, when it functions as an object in its clause. A man whom I knew in the army phoned me this morning. The clerk at the post office, to whom I complained about our mail service, was very patient with me. service, The only instance where the relative pronoun is not the immediate clause opener occurs when the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition.
• Like other possessive pronouns, whose
functions as a determiner in its own clause. • The student whose car was stolen was called to the office.
• The relative pronoun that is often deleted, but the • • • •
deletion is possible only when the pronoun functions as an object in its clause, not when it acts as the subject. Ex. You can choose a color [that] you like. The objective case relative pronoun whom can often be deleted too. Ex. A woman [whom] my mother knew in high school has invited me to dinner. On a diagram, the deleted word can be shown in brackets, or it can be replaced by an x.
• In relative clauses introduced by relative
adverbs ( where, when, why), the relative (where, why), adverb functions as an adverb in its own clause. The relative adverb where introduces clauses that modify nouns of place. • Newsworthy events rarely happen in the small town where I was born. born.
• The adjectival participial phrase is
essentially a reduced relative clause.
• Ex. the man who is living across the
street— street—relative clause • the man living across the street— street— participial phrase
• The houses that were designed by Frank
Lloyd Wright—relative clause Wright—
• The houses designed by Frank Lloyd
Wright— Wright—participial phrase
• Unlike relative clauses, the participial phrase can
be shifted to the beginning of the sentence when it modifies the subject.
• Built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936, the 1936,
Kauffman house . . . hikers… hikers…
• Carrying heavy packs on their backs , the
• The participle can open the sentence only when
its subject is also the subject of the sentence and is located in regular subject position. Otherwise, the participle dangles. egg.
• After being whipped fiercely, the cook boiled the • Flitting gaily from flower to flower, the football
player watched the bee.
More Dangling Participles
• Crossing the room, her foot bled all over the • Driving home in yesterday’s storm, a tree fell on • Bending down, she laced up her shoes, grabbed
her keys from the table and raced from the room and down the stairs. • After winning the Peloponnesian War, Athens was ruled briefly by the Spartans. the back of my car. carpet.
Punctuation of Clauses and Participles
• The question regarding punctuation of clauses and • •
participles is the question of restrictive (essential) versus nonrestrictive (nonessential) modifiers. Restrictive (essential) modifiers are not optional because they define the noun. Nonrestrictive (nonessential) modifiers are optional because they merely comment on the noun. Since nonrestrictive modifiers are optional, we set them off with commas. In this case, the commas can be thought of as parentheses.
• The football players wearing shiny orange
helmets stood out in the crowd. (This participial phrase defines which football players stood out in the crowd.) • The football players, wearing shiny orange players, helmets , stood out in the crowd. (This participial phrase merely comments on the fact that the players are wearing shiny orange helmets. The football players stood out in the crowd regardless of the helmets.)
Avoiding Comma Errors
• 1. Adjectival clauses introduced by that are always
restrictive and thus are not set off by commas.
• 2. The which clause is generally nonrestrictive and is set
off by commas. Test: Try substituting that for which. If it which. works, the clause is restrictive and should not be set off in commas. Ex. The hat which (that) I wore belonged to my mother. NOTE: This substitution test does not work when which is the object of a preposition. That never works in that position. Ex. I probably won’t get either of the jobs for which I applied.
• 3. If the relative pronoun can be deleted,
the adjective clause is restrictive (essential).
• Ex. The bus (that) I ride to work is always
• These next two rules apply to both
relative clauses and participial phrases. be nonrestrictive. Ex. Herbert Hoover, elected president in 1928, was the first president born west of the Mississippi River.
• 4. After any proper noun the modifier will
• 5. After any common noun that has only
one possible referent the modifier will be nonrestrictive. • Ex. My youngest sister, who lives in Oregon, is much more domestic than I.
• The order in which they appear is well defined:
prepositional phrase, participial phrase, relative clause
• the security guard [in our building] [who checks out the • the woman [from London] [staying with the Renfords] • the DC -10 [on the far runway] [being prepared for
takeoff] [which was hijacked by a group of terrorists] visitors]
• Infinitives—”to” + verb form Infinitives— • Can function as adverbs, adjectives, or • Adverbial infinitive: I went home early to • Adjectival infinitive: the way to be helpful; helpful;
the best place in San Francisco to eat seafood relax before the party. (Why?) nouns
• Noun forms of time and place (nominal
adjectives) can follow the headword.
• the party last night • the ride home
Diagramming Nominal Adjectives
• Nominal adjectives are diagrammed like
adjectival prepositional phrases except the preposition is missing.