30 Oct 2014

An absolute phrase

Usually, an absolute phrase consists of a noun or pronoun with a participle and other modifiers. An absolute phrase does not modify a specific word in a sentence, instead it modifies the rest of a sentence.

The absolute phrase can be placed in front, at the end or in the middle of a sentence. It adds extra information modifying the whole sentence.

The structure of absolute phrases differ, and it is better to see examples to understand it.

Frankly speaking, I do not like horrors. One of common expressions which are considered to be absolutely phrases.

He did not want to her to go to work in such circumstances, truth to tell.

Talking about John, do you know that he was promoted?

Look, judging by the ominously lurking clouds, the storm is brewing.

Probably the most common are absolute phrases following the pattern: a noun plus a participle:

Legs shaking, he scrambled on the bank of the river.

Face frozen and heart beating like crazy, she went to the room to meet a doctor.

They were paddling along the seashore, the waves gently licking their feet.

Personally, I think that this phrase is a wonderful way of expressing our thoughts. We have to be very aware of its power, as well as be conscious of high probability of making mistakes while using it.

This type of phrases is often used in descriptive prose, adding in fact, important information.

Sometimes, especially when a participle is a form of a verb be (being, having been) a participle is often omitted, but understood.

The match (being) over, they win the championship.

(Having been) the best graduate at his year, he could choose among top jobs in the market.

In many absolute phrases, we will find a noun (subject of a phrase) and a verb, but this verb will be in non-finite form  - a participle or an infinitive, a verbal form functioning as other parts of speech than a verb.

To master writing in English, we need to understand how phrases build a clause, and, what is the most essential, how these building blocks create intelligible thoughts. The next post will be about an appositive phrase, or rather how different phrases can act as appositive. Armed with this knowledge, I will talk about clauses.