Reference > Usage > American Heritage® Book of English Usage > 1. Grammar > § 1. absolute constructions
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The American Heritage® Book of English Usage.
A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English.  1996.

1. Grammar: Traditional Rules, Word Order, Agreement, and Case

§ 1. absolute constructions


Absolute constructions consist of a noun and some kind of modifier, the most common being a participle. Because they often come at the beginning of a sentence, they are easily confused with dangling participles. But an absolute construction modifies the rest of the sentence, not the subject of the sentence (as a participial phrase does). You can use absolute constructions to compress two sentences into one and to vary sentence structure as a means of holding a reader’s interest. Here are some examples:
 No other business arising, the meeting was adjourned.
 The paint now dry, we brought the furniture out on the deck.
 The truck finally loaded, they said goodbye to their neighbors and drove off.
 The horse loped across the yard, her foal trailing behind her.
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  Constructions like these are used more often in writing than in speaking, where it is more common to use a full clause: When the paint was dry, we brought the furniture out on the deck. There are, however, many fixed absolute constructions that occur frequently in speech:
 The picnic is scheduled for Saturday, weather permitting.
 Barring bad weather, we plan to go to the beach tomorrow.
 All things considered, it’s not a bad idea.
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The American Heritage® Book of English Usage. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
 
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