There is a sentence with this structure below which I can’t understand.

A drastic change from her old style, the woman now dressed very differently than she used to.

Can you this phrase change into a subordinate clause?

I can’t understand the relationship between a phrase and a main clause.

Is there anyone who explain this to me?

  • Strictly speaking, your "displaced / fronted" adverbial clause lacks a preposition: In a drastic change of habit, she now dressed very differently. Sep 23, 2021 at 10:39
  • @FumbleFingers I have a different idea. If a preposition "in" is added to the phrase, it seems to be a Introductory Absolute Phrase. I think it is different, and a writer must be first add 'in' to the phrase if he has a same intention.
    – bak1936
    Sep 23, 2021 at 10:56
  • You're entitled to your opinion, but I'm quite sure you're mistaken. It's not like there are two completely valid syntactic constructions here, distinguished only by whether or not that preposition in included. So far as I'm concerned, all we've got is the (literary / poetic) omission of a preposition that (according to "standard" grammar) should / could be present.... Sep 23, 2021 at 11:34
  • ...and dropping that preposition won't always work anyway - you'd probably never see something like In a sudden volte-face, President Kostunica sacked the army chief of staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic without that initial in. Sep 23, 2021 at 11:36
  • 1
    I have little interest in the labels attached to various syntactic constructions. There is something slightly "weird" about not including the preposition in your cited example, but I'm content to simply call that a "literary / poetic" variant of the normal preposition-based adverbial clause. I really can't see that "[noun] adjunct" is a useful label here though - a "typical" illustration of a noun adjunct usage in this context might be something like A dedicated follower of fashion, the woman now dressed very differently (the initial NP refers to the woman, not the action). Sep 23, 2021 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


Technically, the sentence does not break any grammatical rules. Semantically, it is poorly written. The central noun in the appositive phrase is change. So we look in the adjacent clause for a noun phrase that can the appositive can refer to. Our choices are woman and she. Neither of these can be described as a change.

I suppose you could change the appositive into a subordinate clause, but there is a simpler solution:

In a drastic change from her old style, the woman now dressed very differently than she used to.

Grammatically, this is now quite different. The modifier is a prepositional phrase rather than a noun phrase. It functions as an adverb and describes the manner in which the woman dresses.

I don't think the original author intended to write the sentence this way. Some people just struggle with appositives.

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