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'Sato looked again at the capstone, her expression one of disbelief.'

I know the sentence is perfect both grammatically and semantically because it is from a novel written by Dan Brown. However, it seems more complete to me to write:

'Sato looked again at the capstone and her expression was one of disbelief.'

Or

'Sato looked again at the capstone with her expression being one of disbelief."

What is the grammar rule behind this? Why can you just write " ..., her expression one of disbelief." ?

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    It's a verbless clause. If we add the verb, we have, "Sato looked again at the capstone, her expression being one of disbelief." – BillJ Mar 30 '18 at 18:06
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    You are correct, it is more complete to include was or being. It still makes sense without either though. You can think of that clause as equivalent to her expression: one of disbelief. However, I would rethink your attitude regarding the perfection of Dan Brown's writing. Just because Dan Brown wrote something does not mean it's correct. – tjp Apr 1 '18 at 1:19
  • BillJ is mostly right, it is a 'reduced absolute parenthetical phrase'. Its surface structure is not a real clause because 'being' is a participle; not a real verb. It is absolute (instead of free modifier) because it has a new subject, and it is reduced because a tense-less form of 'be' can be assumed. – amI Oct 17 '18 at 8:02
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    >I know the sentence is perfect both grammatically and semantically because it is from a novel written by Dan Brown. You may want to raise that bar ;-) – mcalex Nov 2 '18 at 5:29
  • To echo mcalex, don't ever assume that fiction sentences are perfectly grammatical. Even if we ignore the question of whether a specific author is a "good" or "bad" writer, fiction takes liberties with the language. "Appears in fiction" does not imply "is proper grammar". – JKreft Dec 28 '18 at 10:07
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It is an absolute clause. If the participle would be being, it is often omitted.

They are not common in speech, but reasonably common in writing.

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