For earlier generations, buying food or consumer products involved visiting several shops, each with the same limited range on offer. (Source.)

Is marked phrase an absolute clause?

I have made an another example with the same construction I think. Is that sentence below correct?

The choir consisted of five people, each with a unique voice.


No these are not absolute clauses. They do not use a participle as their verb, nor do they include their own subject. In the first the subject is "several shops", in the second it is "five people".

As this article on absolute clauses says:

Outside a few set phrases such as all being/going well, weather permitting, present company excluded/excepted, absolute clauses are infrequent and usually confined to formal written English.

My understanding is that:

  • an absolute clause (which some call an absolute phrase) will always include a noun or noun phrase, which serves as the subject of the clause;
  • usually an absolute clause will include a past or present participle, which serves as the verb of the clause;
  • when an absolute clause does not include a particple, it will not include any verb at all;
  • An absolute clause always modifies an entire sentence, or an entire independent clause (which could be a full sentence), not merely a single noun or noun phrase;
  • an absolute clause may include additional modifiers, but need not do so.

by the way, the 2nd example (before the edit corrected it):

The choir was consist of five people, each with a unique voice.

is incorrect. It should be one of:

  • The choir consisted of five people, each with a unique voice.
  • The choir was composed of five people, each with a unique voice.
  • The choir was made up of five people, each with a unique voice.

but not "was consisted" nor "was consist".

  • So are they reduced clauses? "The choir consisted of five people, who each was with a unique voice. " or "The choir consisted of five people, each of whom was with a unique voice." + As far as I know absolute phrases don't have to use a participle as their verb. For example: "The man stood laughing, his weapons at his hips." (Stephen Crane, "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky") (Link: thoughtco.com/absolute-phrase-grammar-1689049) – Talha Özden Aug 9 '19 at 22:34
  • @Talha Özden I would say that that quote from Crane does not contain an absolute clause. I would further say that many of the examples in the thoughtco.com article are not absolute clauses either. A number of them modify nouns or verbs, not entire independent clauses, and several contain verbs that are not participles. But I am not sure how helpful it is to identify a part of a sentence as an absolute clause. What is more important, I think, is what a clasue modifies, a word or the whole independent clause – David Siegel Aug 9 '19 at 22:58

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