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Absolutes


Absolutes show a special "how" relationship between two sentences. The two sentences are combined in a way that subordinates one to the other. For example,

    Mary was sitting at her desk. Her head was slightly lowered over a pile of chemistry notes.

    Mary was sitting at her desk, her head slightly lowered over a pile of chemistry notes.

In order to construct an absolute, follow these steps:

  1. Check to see if there is a "be" verb in the sentence you want to subordinate.
  2. If there is a "be" verb, eliminate it and combine the sentences with a comma.
    • Julie accepted the award. Tears were streaming down her face.
    • Julie accepted the award, tears streaming down her face.
  3. If the subjects are the same, delete the subject of the absolute as well. For example,
    • Julie accepted the award. Julie was overcome with emotion.
    • Julie accepted the award, overcome with emotion.
    • OR Overcome with emotion, Julie accepted the award.
  4. If there is no "be" verb, change the main verb of the subordinating sentence into its -ing form. Then eliminate similar subjects and combine sentences with a comma.
    • Johnny ran after the bus. He waved his hands and whistled.
    • Johnny ran after the bus, waving his hands and whistling .
    • OR: Waving his hands and whistling, Johnny ran after the bus.
  5. If there is a "possessive" relationship between the two sentences, use possessive pronouns (its his, their, etc.) to indicate the relationship between the subjects.

    Active:

    The cat confronted the burglar. It arched its back and bared its teeth.

    The cat confronted the burglar, arching its back and baring its teeth.

    Passive:

    The cat confronted the burglar. Its back was arched and teeth were bared.

    The cat confronted the burglar, its back arched and teeth bared.

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