We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Premodifiers?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Premodifiers are words that are part of a noun phrase, that come before the noun that they modify. These words provide more specific information, which is the process of modification, that helps indicate one particular instance of a noun, rather than leaving it open. For example, the word "cat" is a noun and when used alone it can refer to any type of animal that is part of the feline family. Premodifiers can be provided, however, to refer to a particular one, "the cat," or to give additional information about it such as "the large, brown cat."

There are both premodifiers and postmodifiers that can be used as part of a phrase to help modify a noun. It is important to identify them as part of the noun phrase, since any pronoun used to refer to them indicates the entire phrase and not just the noun itself. For example, in the sentence "My car is blue," the word "my" is a premodifier that specifies exactly what is being referred to by the noun "car." When a pronoun is used afterward, such as "My car is blue and it is very fast," the word "it" refers to not only "car" but to "my car" and so it replaces all premodifiers as well as the noun.

Premodifiers commonly consist of one or more words that include articles, adjectives, and possessive pronouns. Both indefinite articles, such as "a" or "an," and definite ones like "the" can be used in this way, and refer to either a general item or a specific noun. Adjectives that describe an object, such as "orange" or "large" are among the most common premodifiers and verbs with the suffix "-ing" can be used in this same way. Possessive pronouns help modify nouns by indicating ownership over an object such as "my book" or "their house."

Unlike premodifiers, postmodifiers come after the noun that they describe, but they are also part of the same noun phrase. For example, the sentence, "The tomcat with large eyes creeps through the grass," includes a single noun phrase with both pre and postmodifiers. The noun is simply "tomcat" with a premodifier of the definite article "the;" the postmodifiers are in the form of a prepositional phrase "with large eyes" that provide additional information to specify which cat is being referred to. All of this is part of the same noun phrase, since it could be replaced with a single pronoun and become "He creeps through the grass."

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Apr 11, 2013

It's really interesting teaching young kids how to try and work interesting and appropriate premodifiers into their written work. It's something I always took for granted as a grownup but it's really something that has to be deliberately learned or they will just put "dog" instead of "the dog" or "a dog" or "the spotted dog".

Once they start being more specific about their nouns they have basically crossed to a new level of literacy.

By Mor — On Apr 10, 2013

@bythewell - In a way, it does make sense. I mean, if you say "the house" first, someone might put into their mind an image of a lovely old villa which is spoiled when you continue with "the house small and new".

The thing is, there are no real rules for how a language develops and it doesn't really have to make sense afterwards either (if it did, English would be in trouble!). It's an organic process and it happens gradually over many generations.

If having lots of premodifiers was that much of an issue, it would have changed by now.

By bythewell — On Apr 09, 2013

Apparently it's pretty unusual that, in English, so many premodifiers are used to describe the object before the noun itself is used.

In French, for example, they wouldn't say "the blue ball" they would say "the ball blue". And, as much as that sounds wrong to my native English ears, I can logically see why people would want to know the most important thing about the topic first.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.