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  1. #1
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    Default Nominative absolute phrase

    Is it grammatically legitimate to view a nominative absolute as an object of an understood preposition modified by a participial phrase?

    Nominative absolute......

    High heels clattering on the pavement, the angry women marched toward the mayor's office.

    Object of an understood preposition......

    (With) their high heels clattering on the pavement, the angry woman marched toward the mayor's office.

    The nominative absolute phrase consists of a noun "subject", a participle, and any modifiers that accompany the participle. Unlike other phrases, absolute phrases modify entire clauses.

    We teach our students that phrases are word groups that do not have subjects and verbs. We also say that phrases function as single parts of speech. If this is true, do we have adverbial nominative absolute phrases? Do noun absolute phrases exist? What about adjective absolute phrases?

    I am prone to consider the preposition with as an inherent element of an absolute phrase. Granted, the with preposition would always be understood much like the understood preposition featured in an adverbial objective.

    I believe absolute phrases exist. I am just not totally convinced that they are anything other than participial phrases that modify objects of understood prepositions. When I view absolute phrases from this perspective, they make perfect sense to me and share the grammatical properties of other phrases.

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
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    I am not sure what the answer to your question is, but I think you better take another look at your sentences.

    Re:
    • High heels clattering on the pavement, the angry women marched toward the mayor's office.


    Try:
    • Her high heels clattering on the pavement, the angry women marched toward the mayor's office.


    Re:
    • (With) their high heels clattering on the pavement, the angry woman marched toward the mayor's office.


    Try:
    • Their high heels clattering on the pavement, the angry women marched toward the mayor's office.


    What do you think?

    :)

  3. #3
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Is 'clattering' a participle there or an adjective?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Is 'clattering' a participle there or an adjective?
    Since the high heels are clattering (and not clattering high heels), I'd say it's a participle. (In my first sentence, I should have had Their instead of Her or woman instead of women.)

    :)

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    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    I think the basic is question is that if it is possible to put a preposition there it called be viewed as an elliptical preposition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I think the basic is question is that if it is possible to put a preposition there it called be viewed as an elliptical preposition.
    That seems to make sense. Certainly, a preposition can be unstated yet understood.

    :)

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    red pencil is offline Newbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I think the basic is question is that if it is possible to put a preposition there it called be viewed as an elliptical preposition.
    That seems to make sense. Certainly, a preposition can be unstated yet understood.

    :)
    The basic question Is it grammatically legitimate to view a nominative absolute as an object of an understood preposition modified by a participial phrase? remains unanswered.

    I am interested in phrase constituent elements and am wondering if the noun portion of a nominative absolute phrase is really a "subject" as suggested by some scholars, or is it simply an object of an understood preposition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by red pencil
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I think the basic is question is that if it is possible to put a preposition there it called be viewed as an elliptical preposition.
    That seems to make sense. Certainly, a preposition can be unstated yet understood.

    :)
    The basic question Is it grammatically legitimate to view a nominative absolute as an object of an understood preposition modified by a participial phrase? remains unanswered.

    I am interested in phrase constituent elements and am wondering if the noun portion of a nominative absolute phrase is really a "subject" as suggested by some scholars, or is it simply an object of an understood preposition?
    I am inclined to say yes, it is an object of an understood preposition modified by a participial phrase. However, I await Cas's (or Tdol's) opinion for the final word on this one.

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    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    I already said that it can be viewed as such. However, there is no Academy to make any final decision, so there can ber no dfinitive answer, only what we believe through our own investigations, and other people's. There are two ways of viewing it, depending on how we reconstruct the elliptical phrase. By placing a preposition in, it becomes an object, yet it can be mad into the subject, so both are possible. I tend more to the object idea.

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    red pencil is offline Newbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I already said that it can be viewed as such. However, there is no Academy to make any final decision, so there can ber no dfinitive answer, only what we believe through our own investigations, and other people's. There are two ways of viewing it, depending on how we reconstruct the elliptical phrase. By placing a preposition in, it becomes an object, yet it can be mad into the subject, so both are possible. I tend more to the object idea.
    I am glad to see some degree of complicity in my efforts to discount the existence of the nominative absolute phrase. Another Internet resource http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/phrases.htm flatly states that "absolute phrases contain a subject (which is often modified by a participle), but not a true finite verb." The Garden of Phrases website further states that "absolute phrases do not directly connect to or modify any specific word in the rest of the sentence; instead, they modify the entire sentence, adding information."

    How many phrases (other than the so-called "infinitive clause") contain a subject? By definition, a phrase is a word group that does not contain a subject and a verb.

    Phrases also function as single parts of speech. If absolute phrases modify entire sentences as claimed above, how can they possibly function as adjectives, adverbs, verbs, or nouns?

    Is the nominative absolute phrase an anomaly, or is it a simple misnomer for a object of an understood preposition modified by a participial phrase?

    Gentlemen, I cannot recall seeing anything about nominative absolute phrases in any of my reference materials until recently. Until convinced otherwise, I am going with my "object of an understood preposition" theory.
    Thanks to everyone who contributed. Bill :D

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