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After our third run Andrew shut down the engine, and we went our separate ways--he for a lunch break, I __ (explore) the city. Given answer: to explore.

This question means to test "absolute construction, but I was taught that infinitive absolute construction, i.e. I to explore, is very rare. So I want to know if this sentence is idiomatic.

2 Answers 2

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These "absolute" expressions are almost grammar free.

It works like this:

Jack and Jill like different pets. Jack, cats. Jill, dogs.

The last two "sentences" aren't really sentences at all, just a couple of nouns. You need to use the structure implied by the context to make any sense of this at all: "Jack likes cats, whereas Jill likes dogs".

So "he for a lunch break" means "He went (separately) for a lunch break". But "I, to explore the town" means "I went (separately) to explore the town." If you fill in the omitted verb, you can see it is just a normal catenative construction, with the infinitive giving the purpose. There's no special "absolute infinitive" grammar here.

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I don't know what "infinitive absolute" means. I would call this "infinitive of purpose". It is common.

Some examples:

I went out to get some bread.

I climbed a ladder to clean the windows.

He stopped me to have a moan.

They campaigned for thirty years to get the judgment overturned.

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    I think "infinitive absolute" means that the infinitive isn't functioning as some element in the clause. It's just there.
    – James K
    Aug 15, 2023 at 17:22

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