1

Seen from the helicopter, the cars on the road are as small as insects.

We seeing the cars on the road from the helicopter, they are as small as insects.

Are both of the sentences grammatically and semantically correct?

In my opinion, the first sentence is fine, but the second one seems weird and incorrect.

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  • 3
    "we seeing" does not work at all.
    – Lambie
    Jan 4, 2022 at 16:43
  • If you particularly want to use we as subject, you have to express it differently - something like "From the helicopter, we see the cars on the road looking as small as insects". Jan 4, 2022 at 16:52
  • @Lambie, I agree. Someone said the second example involved Absolute Nominative Constructions, but I don't think so. Can you explain the conditions in usage about this construction?
    – user421993
    Jan 4, 2022 at 16:56
  • 1
    This is a good question. Absolute Construction makes it seem like we should be able to say "We seeing the cars, (something)", but that doesn't work.
    – stangdon
    Jan 4, 2022 at 17:07
  • 1
    Seeing the cars on the road from above, they looked etc.
    – Lambie
    Jan 4, 2022 at 17:24

2 Answers 2

1

1

Seen from the helicopter, the cars on the road are as small as insects.

Seen from the helicopter is a participial phrase and modifies cars. Example 1 works.

2

We seeing the cars on the road from the helicopter, they are as small as insects.

We seeing the cars on the road from the helicopter does not modify they. Another problem with this example is faulty pronoun reference; they has no antecedent. This example hence does not work.

Similarly, removing We, leaving the participial phrase seeing the cars on the road from the helicopter does not help. This phrase does not modify they, and we have the same faulty pronoun reference problem.

As absolute construction has been brought up, we attempt to see its possibility.

An absolute phrase usually consists of a noun/pronoun followed and modified by a modifier, usually a participle/participial phrase.

An absolute phrase

is absolute because it modifies no single word in the main sentence; however, it has a close “thought” relationship to the entire main sentence [emphasis added].

An absolute phrase

modifies the rest of the sentence [emphasis added], not the subject of the sentence as opposed to a participial phrase.

In the following examples from ifioque, the respective absolute phrases modify their independent clauses.

The book being short, I read it in two hours.

The paint now dry, we brought the furniture out on the deck.

guidetogrammar gives more explanation and examples.

Absolute phrases do not directly connect to or modify any specific word in the rest of the sentence; instead, they modify the entire sentence, adding information.

The season nearly finished, Rebecca Lobo and Sophie Witherspoon emerged as true leaders.

The two superstars signed autographs into the night, their faces beaming happily.

The example in OP's comments is an absolute construction.

The homework done, Jack left.

For our 2nd car example, however, I do not see a possibility of an absolute construction.

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Participle phrases:

Seeing the cars on the road from the helicopter, they looked as small as insects.

Seen from the helicopter, the cars on the road etc. OR The cars seen from the helicopter looked very small.

participle phrases

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