Module 9, Verbals and Phrases, Lesson 10:

Absolute Phrases

An absolute phrase (nominative absolute) is generally made up of a noun or pronoun with a participial phrase. It modifies the whole sentence, not a single noun, which makes it different from a participial phrase.
Absolute phrases:
Its branches covered in icicles, the tall oak stood in our yard.
The tall oak, its branches covered in icicles, stood in our yard.
The tall oak stood in our yard, its branches covered in icicles.
As the main clause:
Its branches were covered in icicles.

Absolute phrases are always set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

Sometimes when the participle of an absolute phrase is a form of the verb to be, the participle is left out and understood.

The movie being over, the patrons flooded the lobby and parking lot.
The movie over, the patrons flooded the lobby and parking lot.

Sometimes a noun phrase (a noun and its modifiers) can act as an absolute phrase.

The stars of that movie, where are they now?

Practice What You've Learned

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Click on all the words in the absolute phrases in the sentences below.
Legs twitching, my dog dreams of chasing squirrels.
My mother, her hands on her hips, surveyed the mess we had made of the kitchen.
The rain holding off, Randy mowed the lawn as quickly as possible.
The guilty boys, cookie crumbs betraying them, tried hard to look innocent.
The party over, we began cleaning up the family room.
The rain coming down in sheets, we had to pull over to the side of the road.
Jennie walked onto the stage, her heart racing.
Josie flew down the hill on her bicycle, her hair streaming out behind her.
My dog watched my brother eat his hamburger, drool dripping from her chin.
His bicycle wheel bent out of shape, Brett waited for his father to come pick him up.