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Thread: qualify/modify

  1. #1
    angliholic's Avatar
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    Smile qualify/modify

    I feel I must qualify my earlier remarks in case they are misinterpreted.
    In "the open door," open is an adjective qualifying door.


    Could I use modify and modifying to replace qualify and qualifying in the above contexts without making a change in meaning?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: qualify/modify

    Quote Originally Posted by angliholic View Post
    I feel I must qualify my earlier remarks in case they are misinterpreted.
    This is different from "modify" - in this context. By "qualify" - presumably - you mean "say something more in order to make my [i.e. your] meaning clearer". "Modify", in this context, would mean change in some important way.


    In "the open door," open is an adjective qualifying door.
    See below

    Could I use modify and modifying to replace qualify and qualifying in the above contexts without making a change in meaning?
    Thanks.
    I had an English teacher (in an English school, that is - the context isn't ESL) who insisted that adjectives qualify but adverbs modify. I've never heard this anywhere else; in this forum, for example, teachers whose views I respect frequently use 'modify' to refer to adjectives (as they relate to nouns). So I imagine this is a pointless prescription (one that I have trouble shaking off though, in my own usage - possibly because of my Latin background, which makes me restrict "modify" to modus [=means] and qualify to qualis [=what sort?]).

    b

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    Re: qualify/modify

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I had an English teacher (in an English school, that is - the context isn't ESL) who insisted that adjectives qualify but adverbs modify. I've never heard this anywhere else; in this forum, for example, teachers whose views I respect frequently use 'modify' to refer to adjectives (as they relate to nouns). So I imagine this is a pointless prescription (one that I have trouble shaking off though, in my own usage - possibly because of my Latin background, which makes me restrict "modify" to modus [=means] and qualify to qualis [=what sort?]).

    b
    Thanks, Bob, for the amusing and beneficial explanation.
    Now I'm intrigued in your viewpoint based on the Latin knowledge. Would you shed more light on the part I bolded in blue?

  4. #4
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    Re: qualify/modify

    A lot of prescriptions are based on Latin meanings and Latin grammar. The old canard about 'not using a preposition to end a sentence with' is based on the meaning of pre-; if the very word "preposition" means "situated before" - so goes the specious argument - a preposition has to come before at least a noun (and so can't come right at the end of a sentence).

    Modus refers to a method or means or way of doing something; this makes "modify" seem to be suitable for adverbs. Qualis asks what something is like; this makes "qualify" seem to be suitable for adjectives (words that refer to the quality of a noun). Note my use of 'seem to'; I don't believe in this 'rule'.

    b

  5. #5
    angliholic's Avatar
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    Re: qualify/modify

    Thanks, Bob, for the most entertaining as well as instructional info.
    Now I get the hang of it.
    By the way, I know that preposition signifies put (pos-) before (pre-) but all languages are changing. We have to accept the truth and never stick to old grammar or principles. In this respect, I'm more of descriptive points of view.

    Thanks again for the wonderful Latin lesson. I hope we can read more of your Latin explanation.

    Best regards,

    Angliholic

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