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Non-Restrictive Modifiers

How to Add Description to Sentences
by Isaiah Hemmen on 14 May 2014

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Transcript of Non-Restrictive Modifiers

Appositives
-Noun Phrases & Adjectives
OPENER
A desperate and unstable dude
,
the madman escaped through the window

A former drill instructor
,
the madman escaped through the window

Emperor of all that is holy
,
the madman escaped through the window
Appositive Noun Phrase
The madman
/
escaped
Subject (NP) + Verb (VP)

The madman
/
escaped
/
through the window
Subject (NP) + Verb (VP) + Completer (PP)


Beginnings -
The Simple Sentence
Prepositional Phrases
& Opening/ Delayed Adverbs

OPENER
Effortlessly
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Cunningly but awkwardly
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Daintily yet defiantly
,
the madman escaped through the window.



Opening/ Delayed Adverbs
Present Participial Phrases & Absolutes
OPENER
Smoking excitedly
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Talking to himself in Slovenian
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Missing his imaginary wife
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Present Participial Phrases
Adjective & Adverb Clauses
OPENER
X
- Adjective Clauses do not logically fit in the opening position, for they have to follow the subject.
Adjective Clauses
OPENER
Bewildered
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Unhinged
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Whimsical yet reckless
,
the madman escaped through the window.
Appositive Adjectives
OPENER (
Adjectival
)
With a preposterous grin
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Like a ghostly bird
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Without a care in the world
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Prepositional Phrases
OPENER (
Adjectival
)
Visible
:
His hair standing on end
,
the madman escaped through the window.

His hands shaking
,
the madman escaped through the window.

His eyes bloodshot
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Invisible
:
Hair standing on end
,
the madman escaped through the window

Hands shaking
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Eyes bloodshot
,

the madman escaped through the window.
Absolutes
OPENER
- 1 comma
How
:
As though he were an owl
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Why
:
Because he had better things to do
,
the madman escaped through the window.

When
:
Before it got dark
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Under what condition
:
Although he was in a straightjacket
,
the madman escaped through the window.
Adverb Clauses
Non-Restrictive Modifiers

The Key to Writing Complex, Compelling, and Vivid Sentences
CLOSER
The madman escaped through the window
,

a desperate and unstable dude
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

a former drill instructor
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

emperor of all that is holy
.
SV SPLIT
The madman
,

a desperate and unstable dude
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

a former drill instructor
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

emperor of all that is holy
,
escaped through the window.

SV SPLIT
The madman
,

bewildered
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

unhinged
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

whimsical yet reckless
,
escaped through the window

CLOSER
The madman escaped through the window
,

bewildered
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

unhinged
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

whimsical yet reckless
.

Appositive Noun Phrase
Function
The most common
appositive
is a noun phrase that sits next to another noun or noun phrase and explains it.


My dog,
a great mastiff
, loves to drool.


A progressive school
, Bellevue College rules!




Form
-A noun phrase
(
NP
)
: usually begins with an article (
a, an, the
), ends with a noun (
man
), often with an adjective in between (young).

a young man
= NP

-An
appositive
can be simple or complex, containing within it other phrases or even clauses:
Simple:
I

tripped over the panhandler,
a young man
.
Complex:
I tripped over the panhandler,
a young man whose
hair was tied back in a single braid that I momentarily
confused for a grey and moldy frankfurter.



Opening/ Delayed Adjectives
Function
Appositive Adjectives
sits next to a noun or noun phrase and explain it.

Unlike appositive noun phrases, which redefine the nouns they modify,
Appositive Adjectives

add description to the nouns they modify
. In other words, they function as adjectives, not nouns.



Large but intimate
, Bellevue College is my college of choice.





Form
Appositive Adjectives
are more dynamic than normal adjectives in that you can place them in multiple positions.


Normal
adjective placement:

My
large and stinky
great mastiff loves to drool.


Appositive
adjective placement:

Opening Position:

Large and stinky
, my great mastiff loves to drool.

SV Split Position:
My great mastiff,
large and stinky
, loves to drool.





To construct an
Appositive Adjective
, think about the noun you want to describe and choose an adjective or adjectives that accentuate it vividly.

For a list of vivid adjectives, check out “Writing Fix’s 200 Breathtaking Adjectives," available here: http://writingfix.com/PDFs/Writing_Tools/List_of_adjectives.pdf

SV SPLIT
The madman
effortlessly
escaped through the window.

The madman
cunningly but awkwardly
escaped through the window.

The madman
daintily yet defiantly
escape through the window.

CLOSER
The madman escaped through the window
,
effortlessly
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

cunningly but awkwardly
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

daintily yet defiantly
.

SV SPLIT (
Adjectival
)
The madman
,

with a preposterous grin
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

like a ghostly bird
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

without a care in the world
,
escaped through the window.

CLOSER (
Adjectival
)
The madman escaped through the window
,

with a preposterous grin
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

like a ghostly bird
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

without a care in the world
.

OPENER (
Adverbial
)
How
:
With great cunning
,
the madmen escaped through the window

In a flash
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Why
:
For a look at the stars
,
the madman escaped through the window.

For a late night snack
,
the madman escaped through the window.

When
:
On a moonless night
,
the madman escaped through the window.

At the stroke of twelve
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Where
:
At the psych ward
,
the madman escaped through the window.

Under the warden’s nose
,
the madman escaped through the window.

SV SPLIT (
Adverbial
)
How
: The madman
,

in a flash
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

with great cunning
,
escaped through the window.

Why
: The madman
,

for a look at stars
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

for a late night snack
,
escaped through the window.

When
: The madman
,

on a moonless night
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,
at the stroke of twelve
,
escaped through the window.

Where
: The madman
,

at the psych ward
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

under the warden's nose
,
escaped through the window.

CLOSER (
Adverbial
)
How
: The madman escaped through the window
in a flash
.
The madman escaped through the window
with great cunning
.

Why
: The madman escaped through the window
for a look at the stars
.
The madman escaped through the window
for a late night snack
.

When
: The madman escaped through the window
on a moonless night
.
The madman escaped through the window
at the stroke of twelve
.

Where
: The madman escaped through the window
at the psych ward
.
The madman escaped through the window
under the warden’s nose
.

RECAP - Prepositional Modifiers (
Adjectival
)
With a preposterous grin
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

with a preposterous grin
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
with a preposterous grin
.

In Combination:
The madman escaped through the window
like a ghostly bird
,

with a preposterous grin
,
and without a care in the world
.
RECAP - Prepositional Modifiers (
Adverbial
)
On a moonless night
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

on a moonless night
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
on a moonless night
.

In Combination:
At the psych ward
,
on a moonless night
,
at the stroke of twelve
, the madman escaped through the window.
RECAP - Opening/ Delayed Adverbs
Cunningly but awkwardly
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

cunningly but awkwardly
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
,

cunningly but awkwardly
.
Opening/ Delayed Adverbs

Function
-Adverbs modify verbs, explaining
how, when, where, or why something happened

Form
-Adverbs typically end in
–ly
-Opening/ Delayed Adverbs may consist of one or more adverbs
-To construct, think about the verb you want to describe and choose an adverb or adverbs that accentuate it vividly

Here's a comprehensive list of adverbs:
http://www.allaboutspace.com/wordlist/adverbs.shtml
Prepositional Phrases that function as
Adjectives

To construct a prepositional phrase that functions like an adjective,
think about the noun you want to describe
and create a prepositional phrase that accentuates
what kind of person, place, or thing
it is.

Prepositions that show what kind include:
like, with, without, of
Prepositional Phrases that function as
Adverbs

To construct a prepositional phrase that functions like an adverb,
think about the verb you want to describe
and create a prepositional phrase that accentuates that action.

Prepositions include…

How
:
with, without, in
Why
:
for
When
:
on, during, after, before, at
Where
:
at, in, inside, outside, over, under, on, onto, from, near, beyond, by, down, amid, among, about

RECAP - Appositive Noun Phrase
A desperate and unstable dude
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

a desperate and unstable dude
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
,
a desperate and unstable dude
.
RECAP - Appositive Adjectives
Whimsical yet reckless
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

whimsical yet reckless
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
,

whimsical yet reckless.
SV SPLIT
The madman
,

smoking excitedly
,

escaped through the window
.

The madman
,

talking to himself in Slovenian
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

missing his imaginary wife
,
escaped through the window.
CLOSER
The madman escaped through the window
,

smoking excitedly
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

talking to himself in Slovenian
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

missing his imaginary wife
.
RECAP - Prepositional Phrase

Smoking excitedly
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

smoking excitedly
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
,

smoking excitedly
.

In Combination:
Smoking excitedly
,

missing his imaginary wife
,

and

talking to himself in Slovenian
,
the madman escaped through the window.
Form
Step 1
:

Start with a descriptive sentence:
The couple walked down the street.
Step 2
: Form a related sentence using the Be-verb and a present participle:

The couple was holding hands.
Step 3
:

delete the subject and Be-verb, leaving just the present participial phrase:

Holding hands.
Step 4
:

attach this participial phrase to the original sentence:

Holding hands
, the couple walked down the street.

Function
Present participial phrases

capture movement because they represent ongoingness, making action appear swift and instantaneous, as if it’s occurring right in front of our eyes.
Present Participial Phrases

NOTE
Although present participial phrases reflect present action, they can be used with any tense -
past, present, or future
. In this way, they enable writers to lend a sense of in-the-moment action to past or future scenes.

The madman
escaped
through the window,
smoking excitedly
.

The madman
escapes
through the window,
smoking excitedly
.

The madman
will escape
through the window,
smoking excitedly
.

CLOSER (
Adjectival
)
Visible
: The madman escaped through the window
,

his hair standing on end
.
The madman escaped through the window
,

his hands shaking
.
The madman escaped through the window
,

his eyes bloodshot
.

Invisible
: The madman escaped through the window
,

hair standing on end
.
The madman escaped through the window
,

hands shaking
.
The madman escaped through the window
,

eyes bloodshot
.
SV SPLIT (
Adjectival
)
Visible
: The madman
,

his hair standing on end
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

his hands shaking
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

his eyes bloodshot
,
escaped through the window.

Invisible
: The madman
,

hair standing on end
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

hands shaking
,
escaped through the window.
The madman
,

eyes bloodshot
,
escaped through the window.
RECAP - Absolutes (
Adjectival
)
Visible
:
His hair standing on end
,
the madman escaped through the window.
The madman
,

his hair standing on end
,
escaped through the window.
The madman escaped through the window
,

his hair standing on end
.

Invisible
:
Hair standing on end
,
the madman escaped through the window.
The madman
,

hair standing on end
,
escaped through the window.
The madman escaped through the window
,

hair standing on end
.


In Combination:
Hair standing on end
,

hands shaking
,

eyes bloodshot
,
the madman escaped through the window.
OPENER (
Adverbial
)
A television in his grip
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The guard knocked out cold
,
the madman escaped through the window.

No obstacles in his path
,
the madman escaped through the window.
SV SPLIT (
Adverbial
)
The madman
,

a television in his grip
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

the guard knocked out cold
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

no obstacles in his path
,
escaped through the window.
CLOSER (
Adverbial
)
The madman escaped through the window
,

a television in his grip
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

the guard knocked out cold
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

no obstacles in his path
.
RECAP - Absolutes

(
Adverbial
)
The guard knocked out cold
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman
,

the guard knocked out cold
,
escaped through the window.

The madman escaped through the window
,

the guard knocked out cold
.

In Combination:
A television in his grip
,

the guard knocked out cold
,

no obstacles in his path
,
the madman escaped through the window.
Absolutes
To construct an absolute that functions like an
adjective
, think about the noun subject or object you want to describe and...

Step 1
: form a sentence beginning with a possessive pronoun and using the
Be-verb

Her eyes
were
twinkling sadly

Her eyes
were
gray like the sea
Step 2
: delete the Be-verb, thereby creating an
absolute
.

Her eyes twinkling sadly
Her eyes gray like the sea

*NOTE: Similarly, you can make every absolute phrase
a sentence by adding the Be-verb
Step 3
: attach to an independent clause
Grandma said goodbye,
her eyes twinkling sadly
,
her eyes
gray like the sea
.
Step 4 (optional)
: delete the pronoun(s)
Grandma said goodbye,
eyes twinkling sadly
,
eyes gray like
the sea
.
To construct an absolute that functions like an
adverb
, think about the noun subject or object you want to describe and...

Step 1
: form a sentence using the Be-verb


The dog was growling
The cat was on the chandelier
Step 2
: delete the Be-verb, thereby creating an
absolute
.

The dog growling
The cat on the chandelier

*NOTE: Conversely, you can make every absolute
phrase a sentence by adding the Be-verb
Step 3
: attach to an independent clause

The dog growling
,
the cat on the chandelier
, he felt the
tension in the room.
Form
Absolutes
contain a noun phrase subject beginning with a
possessive pronoun
(
my, his, her, their, our
) and a partial predicate - meaning the verb is incomplete.

Function
An
absolute
can function as either an
adjective
, which describes the subject, or an
adverb
, which describes the verb.
SV SPLIT
The madman
,

who had just cracked
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

who desperately craved a Klondike bar
,
escaped through the window.

The madman
,

who wasn’t as mad as he seemed
,
escaped through the window.
CLOSER
The madman escaped through the window
,

which shattered in his wake
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

which looked out on the garden
.

The madman escaped through the window
,

which whispered goodbye
.

RECAP - Adjective Clauses
The madman
,

who desperately craved a Klondike bar
,
escaped through the window
,

which shattered in his wake
.

The madman
,

who just cracked
,
escaped through the window
,

which whispered goodbye
.

The madman
,

who wasn't as mad as he seemed
,
escaped through the window
,

which looked out over the garden
.
SV SPLIT
- 2 commas
How
: The madman
,

as though he were an owl
,
escaped through the window.

Why
: The madman
,

because he had better things to do
,
escaped through the window.

When
: The madman
,

before it got dark
,
escaped through the window.

Under what condition
: The madman
,

although he was in a straightjacket
,
escaped through the window.
CLOSER

- no commas
How
: The madman escaped through the window
as though he were an owl
.

Why
: The madman escaped through the window
because he had better things to do
.

When
: The madman escaped through the window
before it got dark
.

Under what condition
: The madman escaped through the window
although he was in a straightjacket
.

RECAP - Adverb Clauses
Because he had better things to do
,
the madman escaped through the window.

The madman,
because he had better things to do
,
escaped through the window.

The man escaped through the window
because he had better things to do
.

In Combination:
Although he was in a straight-jacket
,

the madman escaped through the window

because he had better things to do
.
Adjective Clauses
Form
To construct an
Adjective Clause
, think about the noun you want to describe and…

1: Identify if it’s a person, or if it’s an object, animal, place, or idea.

My sister
: person

The Marshall Islands
: place
2: If it’s a person, the clause must begin with
who
. If it’s an object, animal, place, or idea, the clause must begin with
which
.

My sister,
who is a daredevil by nature
, likes to skydive.

The Marshall Islands,
which are located in the
South Pacific
, consist of 5 islands and 25 atolls.

NOTE
:
These Adjective Clauses are "dependent," meaning they
depend
on

the independent clause for completion. By themselves, they are fragments - i.e. incomplete sentences.
Function
An
Adjective Clause
is a clause - beginning with
who, which, that, whom, or whose
- that sits next to a noun and describes it. For our purposes today, we are only going to look at "dependent" Adjective Clauses that begin with
who
or
which
.
SUMMARY
Because they are nonrestrictive, free modifiers…

(1)

can be added to or removed from a given sentence without affecting the main clause.

(2)

usually must be separated from the main clause by commas, m-dashes, and/or parentheses - unless there is no chance of a miscue.

(3)

are movable to as many as 3 positions (opener, SV split, closer), but logic dictates which are possible, and your ear should dictate which among those possibilities are preferable –which sound better.

(4)

are combinatory: you can combine multiple such modifiers one after the next.
When combining nonrestrictive modifiers…


-Typically group like with like
Fluid:
The madman escaped through the window
for a look at the stars and for a
late night snack
.
Convoluted:
For a look at the stars
, the madman escaped through the window,
for a late
night snack
.
Fluid:
Hands shaking
,
hair standing on end
, the madman escaped through the window.
Convoluted:
Hands shaking
, the madman,
hair standing on end
, escaped through the window.







-Typically

put modifiers that set the scene (when, where) first
Preferred:
On a moonless night
,
at the stroke of twelve
, the madman escaped through
the window.
Ok:
The madman escaped through the window
on a moonless night at the
stroke of twelve
.







-Typically

put cause before effect.
Preferred:
Because he had better things to do
, the madman escaped through the
window.
Ok:
The madman escaped through the window
because he had better things to do
.

Same
Adjectival
Modifiers in Combination
You can use the same kind of adjectival free modifier repeatedly, as in the following sentence, composed of the main clause and multiple participial phrases:

Smoking excitedly
, the madman escaped through the window,
dropping lightly into the hedge
,
crawling on all fours towards the fence
,
wriggling through the barbed wire
, and
slipping into the darkness
.

Different
Adjectival
Modifiers in Combination
You can use different kinds of adjectival free modifiers in combination, as in the following sentence, composed of opening adjectives, an absolute, the subject, an adjective clause, the verb and completer, a participial phrase, and a prepositional phrase.

Desperate and unstable
,
his hair standing on end
, the madman,
who had just cracked
, escaped through the window,
smoking excitedly
,
with a preposterous grin
.
Same
Adverbial
Modifiers in Combination
You can use the same kind of adverbial free modifier repeatedly, as in the following sentence, composed of the main clause and multiple prepositional phrases:

At the psych ward
,
on a moonless night
,
at the stroke of twelve
, the madman,
with great cunning
, escaped
for a look at the stars and for a late night sn
ack
.
Different
Adverbial
Modifiers in Combination
You can use these different kinds of free modifiers in combination, as in the following sentence, composed of a prepositional phrase, an appositive, the subject, delayed adverbs, the verb and completer, and 2 infinitive phrases.

On a moonless night
,
the guard knocked out cold
, the madman,
cunningly but awkwardly
, escaped through the window,
to check on his savings account
,
and to find his dog, Muffin
.
CHALLENGE #1
To become adept at using such structures in your writing…

(1)
Create your own simple sample sentence, followed by 3 examples of each of the aforementioned modifiers that can fit within that sentence.

(2)
See how many ways you can fit those 3 examples into your main sentence without sacrificing logic or cohesion.

(3)
Experiment with adding various types of adjectival modifiers.

(4)
Experiment with adding various types of adverbial modifiers.

(5)
Finally, experiment with adding both adjectival and adverbial modifiers together. See how many you can add before logic and cohesion break down.
CHALLENGE #2
To become more familiar with these structures, form teams of 3 and…

(1)
Individually construct pattern
a) - below -
using your results from the modifiers handout.
(2)
When you are done, trade work with a teammate. Check their placement and punctuation of all modifiers. If you don’t have a teammate to trade with right away, offer to help someone who is stuck.
Together, determine the best placement for each.
(3)
Once all 3 teammates have checked each other’s work, submit it to me for approval.
(4)
First team to have all its members get the pattern right wins that round.
(5)
Repeat steps
1-4
with
b), c), d)
, and
e)

a)
opening adjective, absolute, adjective clause, participial phrase, adjective prep. phrase
b)
3 participial phrases, adjective clause, delayed adverb, absolute
c)
3 absolutes, infinitive adverb, delayed adjective, adjectival prep. phrase
d)
adjective clause, adverb clause (when), absolute, 2 participial phrases, adjectival prep. phrase
e)
invert your sentence and give it the treatment noted in
a), b), c)
, and
d)
f )
combine the 4 simple sentences from each team member and add modifiers where possible

Adverb Clauses
Function
Adverb Clauses
are dependent clauses that explain the main verb. In particular, they answer the question
how
,
why
,
when
, or
under what condition
.

Adverb Clauses also begin with a
subordinating conjunction
. Click here for a list: http://www.englishforeveryone.org/PDFs/Subordinating%20Conjunctions.pdf
Form
To construct an
Adverb Clause
, think about the verb you want to describe and…

1: Ask yourself if the description answers

how
,
why
,
when
, or
under what condition

2. Choose the relevant subordinating conjunction to begin your
Adverb Clause
.

How
:
as if, as though
Why
:
because, since
When
:
after, as, before, when, while, until, as soon as, whenever
Under what condition
:
although, if, unless

Simple sentences with a subject and verb have 3 "slots" in which to insert modifying phrases and clauses, and thus add description:

1)
Opener
(before the subject)
2)
SV Split
(between the subject and verb, thus "splitting" it)
3)
Closer
(after the verb, or at the very end of the sentence)

Where are these slots in our sample sentences?
The madman escaped
The madman escaped through th
e
window
Modifying clauses and phrases may be inserted in the following positions...

(Opener)

The madman

(SV Split)

escaped
(Closer)
.

(Opener)

The madman

(SV Split)

escaped through the window
(Closer)
.

In other words...

(Slot 1)

The madman

(Slot 2)

escaped
(Slot 3)
.

(Slot 1)

The madman

(Slot 2)

escaped through the window

(Slot 3)
.

Our task today will be to fill these positions using a variety of different modifying phrases and clauses.
Appositives in Combination

1)
The madman
,

a desperate and unstable dude
,

a former drill instructor
,

and emperor of all that is holy
,
escaped through the window.

Notice the punctuation here: 4
commas
is a lot of commas, and commas don't distinguish the appositives from the independent clause.

2)
The madman
-

a desperate and unstable dude
,

a former drill instructor
,

and emperor of all that is holy

-
escaped through the window.

Notice the punctuation here: using 2
m-dashes
on either side of the 3 appositives sets them apart from the independent clause better than 2 commas.
Form
A
Prepositional Phrase
is a phrase the begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or noun phrase, as in the following...


My cat likes to hide
under the covers
.


At six o'clock sharp
, we switched briefcases.



I was sick of being caught
in the middle
.


Without hesitation
, I dove
into the water
.

For a
list of prepositions
, copy & paste the following link:
http://schoolsquestiontime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/what-is-a-preposition-examples.png
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