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I am having difficulty identifying verb modifiers from noun

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I am having difficulty identifying verb modifiers from noun [#permalink] New post 05 Oct 2010, 15:14
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I am having difficulty identifying verb modifiers from noun modifiers. Can someone please provide a simple rule of thumb I could use?

E.g. :

1. Based on the evidence, the jury declared the verdict. This wrong because what/who was "based on the evidence" - the verdict. Hence, it should be "Based on the evidence, the verdict was declared." or "The jury declared the verdict based on the evidence".

2. Using the technology, the problem was resolved. If we use the above approach, "what/who was using the technology?" - the engineer. Then, this must be a noun modifier. However, GMAT calls this as a verb modifier. So although we need the engineer in the sentence, we dont need the two to touch - "Using the technology, the engineer solved the problem" OR "The engineer solved the problem using the technology".

1 and 2 dont help illustrate how to decide which modifier is a noun modifier and which is a verb modifier. "What/who" test and "What happened" test from http://www.manhattangmat.com/forums/sc- ... t7541.html doesnt seem to work. Both of the above have a clear answer for the what/who test, and so both must be noun modifiers.
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Re: Verb modifier Vs Noun modifier [#permalink] New post 05 Oct 2010, 17:06
In this case, I would recommend not worrying too much about the technical difference between the grammatical concepts, because you understand their pragmatic application just fine. As long as you are consistently alert to introductory phrases that function as modifiers, just remember that who or what they modify must come immediately after the comma. That's the most important thing, and you're already doing that correctly.

In the examples that you provide, "based" and "using" are both participles: adjectives created from verbs. "Based" is a past participle, while "using" is a present participle. When dealing with GMAT modifiers, you can treat past and present participles identically.
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Re: Verb modifier Vs Noun modifier [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2010, 09:43
VeritasPrepMimi:

The reason why I am worried about whether these are verb or noun modifiers is that I need to figure out whether the modifier needs to touch what it modifies or not. Both need a noun, but only the noun modifier needs to modify its noun. E.g. Using the technology, the problem was solved by the engineer is a correct answer (although not active). Here, Using the technology is a verb modifier, and so it doesn't need to touch the engineer noun. However, with "Based on the evidence, the jury declared the verdict", the Based on the evidence is a noun modifier, and it needs to touch the verdict noun.

So, I definitely need to be able to figure out which type it is. "Using the technology" and "Based on the evidence" both seem to be verb modifies (the action was performed using the technology and based on the evidence), and both also seem to modify the noun! (The verdict was based on the evidence, and the engineer was using the technology).

I hope I explained my problem better this time :)
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Re: Verb modifier Vs Noun modifier [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2010, 10:56
I understand your explanation, but it doesn't apply to GMAT strategy or to American English. And practically speaking, it's causing more confusion than clarity! Let me suggest another way to think about modifiers that might be more useful.

As you note, both "based" and "using" are participles that are derived from verbs, and they both modify nouns ("verdict" and "engineer"). There's no contradiction here, and on the GMAT, you should prioritize putting the modifier next to the thing it describes, unless it's a participial modifier at the end of a sentence. This is the simplest rule of thumb to follow when it comes to SC modifiers, and you don't have to worry about the distinction between noun and verb modifiers.

For example, "The engineer solved the problem using the technology" is perfectly appropriate because the modifier "using the technology" is a participial modifier at the end of the sentence. It applies to the grammatical subject of the sentence. But the passive "Using the technology, the problem was solved by the engineer" is wrong because the modifier now applies to the object of the sentence instead of the subject. A better choice would be to use a relative clause modifer: "The problem was solved by the engineer, who used the technology."

Perhaps the confusion is coming in because of the terms "verb modifier" and "noun modifier." A verb modifier modifies a verb, but doesn't necessarily contain a verb itself. For example, an adverb like "quickly" is a verb modifier. A noun modifier modifies a noun, but doesn't necessarily contain a noun itself. For example, an adjective like "tall" is a noun modifier.

Hope that helps!
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Re: Verb modifier Vs Noun modifier [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2010, 08:03
Thanks for following up Mimi.

Looks like I have been assuming "Using the technology, the problem was solved by the engineer" is correct (although not active enough.. which is not always a reason for rejection on the GMAT right?). Whereas, you say in your reply that this is incorrect as Using the technology should touch the engineer noun. This is the part that confuses me. Per what I read, verb modifiers do not need to touch the nouns they modify.

So the question becomes.. which of the following are correct/incorrect:

1. Verb modifier, object.. passive-action.. subject
2. Noun modifier, subject.. active-action.. object

I know #2 is correct, but #1? Can I assume that #1 will also always be incorrect for the GMAT? (This tells me that if you have a modifier at the start of the sentence, separated from the modified noun by a comma, it MUST touch that noun/subject except if it is an absolute phrase like - His head held high, Owen walked out the door.. where technically the modifier modifies the entire 2nd half of the sentence and not just Owen).
Re: Verb modifier Vs Noun modifier   [#permalink] 08 Oct 2010, 08:03
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