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  1. #1
    inquisitiveteacher is offline Newbie
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    "..., the main one being..."

    I'm interested to understand why this structure is correct and what is the name of this structure or how I can explain this sentence/structure to my students.

    Take this sentence: "A few problems exist, the main one being that...."

    I know that the above sentence is correct. I just want to find out how to explain it.

    I have some questions:
    1) Is this ("the main one being that..") considered a relative clause. If not, how would it be described?
    2) Why is it "being" instead of "is"
    3) Sometimes you have the preposition "with" in front - e.g. "A few problems exist, with the main one being that..." Why is that so - why sometimes there is a "with" and sometimes there's no "with" in front.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "..., the main one being..."

    I'll let one of our grammar experts answer the technical questions and give you a teacher trainer's answer.

    1) A few problems exist. The main one is that ...
    2) A few problems exist, the main one is that ...

    See? Sentence 2 is what we call a run-on sentence, as it incorrectly fuses two sentences into one. If you mean to keep the thought in a single sentence, the way around the grammatical error is to change the finite linking verb (is) into an -ing verb (being):

    3) A few problems exist, the main one being that ...

    Regardless of what level your students are at, you don't really have to 'explain' anything. Just make sure the meaning is super-clear (which it should be if you write sentence 1 up on the board) and then show them how to do it. Easy. To give them semi-controlled practice, interchange certain words, for example problems with other possible nouns, and main with other possible adjectives (superlatives work well for this). In each case, start off by giving them a pair of sentences, and instruct them to fuse them into one sentence with an -ing clause, in exactly the same way. For example:

    Given: There are several reasons to kill yourself. The most obvious one is that life sucks.
    Target: There are several reasons to kill yourself, the most obvious one being that life sucks.

    I'll let you decide if you want to use that particular example. This kind of practice shouldn't really be done before an upper intermediate level, by the way.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "..., the main one being..."

    Quote Originally Posted by inquisitiveteacher View Post
    I'm interested to understand why this structure is correct and what is the name of this structure or how I can explain this sentence/structure to my students.
    NOT A TEACHER

    1. Thanks for asking this question. I had forgotten the name for this kind of sentence until I was forced to check my books.

    2. When you get time, you may wish to google "Nominative absolute" or simply "Absolute constructions."

    3. According to some sources, one should not introduce it with the preposition "with."

    4. The nominative absolute "often has an antique literary flavor," some books feel.

    5. Here are a few examples for you to enjoy.

    a. "The time having come, we went to the meeting."
    b. "The work being easy, we soon finished it."
    c. "He sprang from his chair, his eyes flashing with anger."

    Sources: Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (1998), pages 7-8; Walter Kay Smart, English Review Grammar (1940), page 14.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 25-Mar-2021 at 10:46. Reason: Fixed quote box

  4. #4
    inquisitiveteacher is offline Newbie
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    Re: "..., the main one being..."

    Thank you to both of you for your answers. I should clarify that the explanation is more for me - just to be sure I'm on the right track.

    So I'm happy to learn of the terms "nominative absolute" or "absolute constructions" since I've never heard of it before!

    Just to confirm, TheParser, a sentence like "There are several reasons to kill yourself, the most obvious one being that life sucks." (which Jutfrank wrote) is an example of this "nominative absolute" or "absolute constructions" right?

    Also, if there's another term besides the above two you mentioned that describes the sentence/construction, let me know. And could you elaborate on why some sources say "with" should not be used?

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    jutfrank's Avatar
    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "..., the main one being..."

    I can't see at all how this is an absolute construction.

    Phaedrus? PaulMatthews? Would you mind giving us some analysis and terminology?

    As far as with goes—I suggest you forget it. In this particular sentence at least, it doesn't add anything at all. If I were editing your sentence, I'd certainly remove it.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "..., the main one being..."

    Quote Originally Posted by inquisitiveteacher View Post
    And could you elaborate on why some sources say "with" should not be used?

    NOT A TEACHER

    Hi!

    Mr. Garner (page 7) gives this sentence: "With Jacobson being absent, the party was a bore." He feels that the "with" makes the "nominative absolute" into an "objective absolute."

    On the other hand, Mr. Smart (page 129) gives this sentence: "He sat quietly, every sense alert for danger." He comments that "the preposition ["with"] is sometimes omitted." Furthermore, he also feels that the missing participle could be "keeping every sense alert for danger." (I guess that many people would assume the missing participle is "being." His example of a missing "being": "Breakfast over, we hurried to the station.")
    '
    Last edited by TheParser; 25-Mar-2021 at 15:13.

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