Absolute Construction




Absolute Construction :


A substantive, with the participle belonging to it, is often used to make a peculiar form of
adverbial modifying phrase such as….

1. The wind failing, we lowered the sail.

Here the wind failing is equivalent to an adverbial phrase (on the failure of the wind) or an adverbial clause (when the wind failed). It defines the time of the action.

{The wind failing, | On the failure of the wind, | When the wind failed,} we lowered the sail.

A substantive, with a participle, may express the cause, time or circumstances of an action.

This is called
the absolute construction .

The substantive is in the nominative case and is called a
nominative absolute .

2. My knife slipping, I cut myself severely. [The phrase my knife slipping is equivalent to because my knife slipped: it expresses cause.]

3. Two days having elapsed, we again set forward. [The phrase in italics is equivalent to when two days had elapsed: it expresses time.]

4. Evenings he read aloud, his wife sewing by his side. [The phrase expresses one of the circumstances that attended the reading.]

5. This done, proceed to business. [The phrase this done is equivalent to the clause since (or when) this is done, and indicates cause or time.]

Note : This construction is called absolute (that is…..free or loosened) because the substantive is not in any one of the constructions (subject, object, apposition, etc.) which ordinarily attach nouns grammatically to other words in the sentence. Nevertheless, the whole phrase, though standing apart from the rest of the sentence, is in meaning an adverbial modifier of some verb.

The participle being is sometimes omitted in the absolute construction.

1. Allen once mayor, my chance of advancement would be ruined. [That is: Allen once being mayor.]

2. Peter stood before me, his hands in his pockets.

3. His clothing in shreds, he presented a sorry sight.


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