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Qualifiers–Grammar Rules and Examples

A qualifier is a word that limits or enhances another word’s meaning. Qualifiers affect the certainty and specificity of a statement. Overusing certain types of qualifiers (for example, very or really) can make a piece of writing sound lazily constructed.

How Qualifiers Change Sentences

In a given sentence, the aspect being modified, or further defined, might have to do with magnitude:

He is an intelligent student.

He is a somewhat intelligent student.

He is the most intelligent student.

In the second and third sentences, somewhat and most qualify intelligent. Qualifiers can also be used to specify time.

He is talkative.

He is sometimes talkative.

He is always talkative.

He is usually talkative.

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The qualifiers sometimes, always, and usually greatly changed the meaning of the sentence in the example above. Qualifiers can also specify relative quality.

I am having their pasta dish.

I am having their best pasta dish.

I am having their worst pasta dish.

I am having their heaviest pasta dish.

All these qualifiers provide further information about the pasta dish and give us insight into the author’s impressions about it.

The Danger of Overusing Certain Qualifiers

It is best not to use some qualifiers too much. These are the modifiers your English teacher dreaded seeing in great quantities, such as very, too, really, and sort of. When you use overuse these words, your writing will seem lazy, as if you haven’t taken the time to look for the “just right” word to describe what you mean.

This pasta dish is very good.

This pasta dish is superb. (Better)

I’m feeling sort of sick.

I’m feeling nauseated. (Better)

You look really nice!

You look radiant. (Better)

Your writing, at its best.
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