The Absolute Phrase - White River High School

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The Absolute
Phrase
Characteristics of the
Absolute Phrase
They are sentence parts that describe the
rest of the sentence in which they appear
 They are almost ALWAYS complete
sentences
 Two tests for the absolute:

 Add
was or were to the phrase and create a
complete sentence
 OR
 Absolutes
begin with possessive pronouns
(my, his, her, its, our, and their)
Absolute Phrase Examples

Sentence Openers

His hands raw, he reached a flat place at the top.
(Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”)

Subject-Verb Splits


Miss Hearn, her face burning, hardly listened to
the words. (Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne)
Sentence Closers

She screamed for Klaus—shrieked for him—and
Klaus came on the dead run, his work boots
whitened by the half-full pail of milk he had
spilled on them. (King’s “The Two Dead Girls”)
Sentence Scrambles:
ID the absolute phrase and write out
the sentences, find the BEST structure
1. a. while Buck struggled in fury
b. then the rope tightened mercilessly
c. and his great chest panting
d. his tongue lolling out of his mouth
(London’s The Call of the Wild)
2. a. to light the cigarette
b. his throat sore
c. he forgot
d. his head aching
(Lewis’s Cass Timberlane)
Sentence Scrambles:
ID the absolute phrase and write out the
sentences, find the BEST structure
3. a. wherever it settled its weight
b. the dinosaur ran
c. its taloned feet clawing damp earth
d. leaving prints six inches deep
e. its pelvic bones crushing aside trees and bushes
(Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”)
4. a. her shoulders drooping a little
b. her glasses winking in the sunlight
c. she was now standing arms akimbo
d. her head cocked to one side
(Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird)
Imitation—Unscramble the sentence to
make it match the model’s structure
Model: The motorcycle on the sidewalk speeded up
and skidded obliquely into a plate-glass window, its
front wheel bucking and climbing the brick
base beneath the window.
a)
b)
c)
d)
the other customers rallying and demanding
the same reduction in the cost
one customer in the line spoke out
about the unfair price
and ranted continuously
Imitation—Unscramble the sentence to
make it match the model’s structure
Model: The motorcycle on the sidewalk speeded up
and skidded obliquely into a plate-glass window, its
front wheel bucking and climbing the brick
base beneath the window.
a)
b)
c)
d)
and moved quickly
one couple heading and leading the rest
through the complicated steps
into two lines
several dancers near the band joined together
Imitation—Write a sentence using
absolute phrases which matches the
models given


Model: Jumping from the bed, my feet barely
hitting the deerskin rug, I rushed into
Mama’s room.
(Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry)
Model: A seared man, his charred clothes
fuming where the blast had blown out the
fire, rose from the curb.
(Leiber’s “A Bad Day for Sales”)
Imitation—Write a sentence using
absolute phrases which matches the
models given


Model: I found Aunt Loma sitting at the kitchen table,
her long curly hair still loose and tousled, the
dirty breakfast dishes pushed back to clear a
space.
(Burns’s Cold Sassy Tree)
Model: His charred clothes fuming where the
blast had blown out the fire, a seared man rose
from the curb.
(Leiber’s “A Bad Day for Sales”--restructured)
Combining—Combine the following
sentences to match the model given

a.
b.
c.
Model: The electric train was there waiting, all
the lights on. (Hemingway A Farewell to Arms)
The youngest brother was nearby.
He was resting.
All his work was over.
Combining—Combine the following
sentences to match the model given

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
Model: He returned, shuddering, five minutes
later, his arms soaked and red to the
elbows.
(Bradbury “A Sound of Thunder”)
This is about the soldiers.
They retreated.
They were shivering.
This happened two days ago.
Their spirits were outraged.
In addition, their spirits were crushed.
This effect on their spirits was caused by
defeat.
Combining—Combine the following
sentences to match the model given

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
Model: As soon as she was well, we went to
Southend-on-the-Sea for a holiday, Mother
outfitting us completely with new
clothes.
(Chaplin My Autobiography)
It happened as soon as it was over.
What happened then was that they pranced
around Gracie.
They did their prancing like courtiers.
Paul was wooing her disgustingly.
He wooed her with his stretched smiles.
Expanding—At the slash mark add an
absolute phrase, the first few words are
given to you to help out
1.
2.
3.
Now, in the waning daylight, he turned to
Glover Street toward his home, his arms /.
As they drove off, Wilson saw her standing
under the big tree, looking pretty rather than
beautiful in her faintly rosy khaki, her dark
hair /, her face /.
His great chest was low to the ground, his
head /, his feet /, the claws /.
Expanding—At the slash mark add an
absolute phrase, the number in brackets is
how many words needed in the phrase
1.
He began scrambling up the wooden pegs
nailed to the side of the tree, / [8].
2.
Touser roused himself under Fowler’s desk and
scratched another flea, / [7].
3.
They were smiling, / [6], / [10].

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