0
  1. "While most politicians are downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing, this candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import."

My mind somehow tells me it is okay to omit "while" and "are" and turn it into an absolute phrase shown as follows.

  1. "Most politicians downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing, this candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import."

Is this okay?

  • I am aware of the fact that the first part of the sentence has become a fragment, but isn't that what an absolute phrase is? Like this sentence here: "The putrid smell of the carrion having attracted a group of vultures, we decided to spend the day taking photographs of the birds." The putrid smell is the subject of the fragment with no verb except "having attracted" just like the subject in my fragment "most politicians" carries no verbs, but "downplaying". Am I misunderstanding the rules with absolute phrases? Thanks for your answer by the way. – Tom Lee Apr 9 at 10:11
  • I expanded the answer – virolino Apr 9 at 10:45
1

[Most politicians downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing], this candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import.

Yes, the bracketed expression is an absolute clause.

It qualifies as an absolute because it contains a subject and is subordinate in form, but has no syntactic link to the main clause.

Absolute clauses are a type of 'supplement'-- neither dependent nor headed. And they are not modifiers either; rather they have a sematic 'anchor' that they refer to. The natural interpretation here is one of contrast, cf:

Though most politicians are downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing, this candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import.

0

Sentence 2 is not OK. Removing "while" and "are" transforms the first clause into a fragment, incorrectly placed ahead of the next clause. "Most politicians" is the subject, but here is no verb associated with it.

Put into a more natural order, sentence 1 is:

  1. This candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import, while most politicians are downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing.

Still not good enough, sentence 1 can be transformed into:

This candidate stresses that improving the lives of the citizens is a matter of import, and most politicians are downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing.

but a good part of the meaning is lost.

The fragment:

Most politicians downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing ...

can be correctly used in a sentence like:

Most politicians downplaying the dire economic situations the people are facing are now in vacation.

In this last example, the same fragment is an absolute phrase.


In the case of an absolute phrase, the absolute phrase is strongly related in meaning to the rest of the sentence. In the original example, "most politicians" and "this candidate" are actually presented as conflicting, not as a unit.


To better understand the absolute phrases, you can study the following examples (from here).

Marshall held onto the ball, his fingers squeezing it tightly.

(Marshall ... his fingers)

I will be back tomorrow, weather permitting.

(as in: if the weather of tomorrow permits)

Her voice floating over the crowd, Maria awed everyone with her natural singing ability.

(Her voice ... Maria)

Sam could be heard all the way down the hall, his loud laughter carrying across the school.

(Sam ... his laughter)

Her fur matted and her legs shaking, the lost puppy finally found her way home.

(Her fur ... the lost puppy)


And also the example you provided in the comment:

The putrid smell of the carrion having attracted a group of vultures, we decided to spend the day taking photographs of the birds.

(vultures ... the birds)

  • I see. So, my absolute clause is not grammatically incorrect. It is just not suitable since both of the subjects I used are being compared to each other. Thanks. – Tom Lee Apr 9 at 13:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.