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Revising Sentences With Absolute Phrases


As discussed in the article Building Sentences With Absolute Phrases, absolutes are useful constructions for adding details to an entire sentence--details that often describe one aspect of someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the sentence. Here we'll practice revising sentences with absolute phrases.


Rewrite each sentence or set of sentences below according to the guidelines in parentheses. When you're done, compare your revised sentences with those on page two. Keep in mind that more than one correct response is possible.

  1. (Combine the two sentences below: turn the second sentence into an absolute phrase and place it in front of the first sentence.)
    • The storks circled above us.
    • Their slender bodies were sleek and black against the orange sky.

  2. (Combine the two sentences below: turn the second sentence into an absolute phrase and place it after the first sentence.)
    • On the tops of the hills, the grass stands at its tallest and greenest.
    • Its new seed plumes rise through a dead crop of last year's withered spears.

  3. (Create two absolute phrases by eliminating the words in bold.)
    • Odysseus comes to shore, and the skin is torn from his hands, and the sea water is gushing from his mouth and nostrils.

  4. (Combine the three sentences below: turn the second and third sentences into absolute phrases, and position them at the start of the sentence to establish a clear cause-effect relationship.)
    • Norton vowed never to marry again.
    • His first marriage ended in divorce.
    • His second marriage ended in despair.

  5. (Omit when, and turn the main clause--in bold--into an absolute phrase.)
    • When the double giant Ferris wheel circles, the swaying seats are more frightening than a jet plane flying through a monsoon.

  6. (Combine the following four sentences into a single sentence with a present participial phrase and two absolute phrases.)
    • All afternoon the caravan passed by.
    • The caravan shimmered in the winter light.
    • Its numberless facets were gleaming.
    • The hundreds of wagon wheels were turning in the dust in slow and endless motion.

  7. (Combine the following five sentences into a single sentence with a present participial phrase and three absolute phrases.)
    • Six boys came over the hill.
    • The boys were running hard.
    • Their heads were down.
    • Their forearms were working.
    • Their breaths were whistling.

  8. (Begin your new sentence with "The buildings sit empty," and turn the rest of the sentence into an absolute phrase.)
    • Jagged pieces of glass stick out of the frames of the hundreds of broken windows in the buildings that sit empty.

  9. (Combine these sentences by replacing the period with a comma and eliminating the word in bold.)
    • Proud of my freedom and bumhood, I stood in the doorway of the boxcar, rocking with the motion of the train.
    • My ears were full of the rushing wind and the clattering wheels.

  10. (Combine these three sentences by turning the first sentence into an absolute phrase and the third into a subordinate clause beginning with "where.")
    • His hair was wet from the showers.
    • He walked in the icy air to Luke's Luncheonette.
    • There he ate three hamburgers in a booth with three juniors.

Compare your revised sentences with the sample combinations on page two.

Exercise: Sentence Building with Absolutes

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