A modifier describes or limits another word or group of words. To correctly identify the modifier as an adjective or adverb, it is important to identify the word the adjective or adverb is modifying.

An adjective modifies a noun or pronoun. In the following sentence, orange is an adjective modifying the noun curtains, and cool is an adjective modifying the noun breeze.

  • The orange curtains billowed in the cool breeze.

In the next example, happy is an adjective modifying the pronoun I. This kind of adjective, one following a linking verb, is called a predicate adjective. Thoughtful is an adjective modifying the noun gesture.

  • I am happy because of his thoughtful gesture.

An adverb modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs answer questions such as how, how much, when, where, and why. In the following sentence, sadly modifies the verb smiled, and answers the question “How did he smile?”

  • He smiled sadly.

In the next example, immediately answers the question “When did they come?”

  • They came immediately.

Here answers the question “Where did she walk?”

  • She walked here.

Very modifies the adjective bright: “How bright were the curtains?”

  • The orange curtains were very bright.

Remarkably modifies the adverb quickly: “How quickly did he crawl?”

  • He crawled remarkably quickly.