Resumptive and Summative Modifiers


In this lesson, we review a couple of great ways to extend a sentence. With both the basic idea is that we repeat a word or idea and then add some extra information about it in a final phrase or clause.

Resumptive Modifiers

To create a resumptive modifier, repeat a word from the main clause (usually one near the end), and then use this word as the basis for a final phrase or clause:

The orchestra gave a beautiful performance, a performance to commemorate their late conductor, James Crotchet.

My friend really hates people who only see black and white, who think in terms of absolutes.

You can see that with a resumptive modifier the sentence resumes, or starts up again after a pause.

Summative Modifiers

Summative modifiers also extend the sentence, but in this case we don’t repeat a word, but use a new word to summarize what came before:

Connor McDavid has signed a monster deal with the Edmonton Oilers, a move that could set the tone for future contract negotiations.

Thomas is writing a dissertation on the history of the hemidemisemiquaver, a note greatly neglected by music historians.

Both summative and resumptive modifiers often use a clause that starts with that (as in the Connor McDavid example).


Summative and resumptive modifiers create a great sense of rhythm, and are in fact a staple of public oratory. In writing you can set them off with a variety of punctuation marks: while a comma is the default option, colons and dashes are common too. So try experiment with these devices in your own writing, and show that you always have something more to say!