absolute participle

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

I heard that in absolute participle phrase, the pronoun couldn't be a subject of absolute participle.

Is it true?


1. I seeing her, she ran away.

2. He having finished his coffee, I went out.


Are these senteces correct?


Thank you in advance.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's an interesting question, jullianus.

    I think that in absolute constructions we usually have a noun rather than a pronoun. But I'm not sure that a pronoun is impossible.

    That said, I feel uncomfortable with both your examples:(.
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    If I substitude 'My husband' for 'We', is it correct?


    My husband
    having finished breakfast, I went out for a walk.

    Is this sentence correct?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    If I substitude 'My husband' for 'We', is it correct?


    My husband
    havingfinished breakfast, I went out for a walk.

    Is this sentence correct?
    It works for me:thumbsup:. But it's decidedly formal. I can't imagine using it in everyday speech.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I heard that in absolute participle phrase, the pronoun couldn't be a subject of absolute participle.

    Is it true?
    No, it is false.
    There are many examples in Google, e.g.:
    We decided to split up, him spending the day with his family and me staying with mine.

    The participial adjunct may also be at the beginning of the sentence:
    You being in the shower, I had to answer your phone.
    I being so much bruised and kicked, the blood was streaming from me in many places.
    (William Grimes, 1825)

    The pronoun takes the nominative case in formal style, the accusative in informal style.

    Non-personal pronouns can also be used:
    That said, ...
    Nobody being around, I broke the lock.
    (though not all grammars classify "nobody" as a pronoun)
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you.

    It was a very useful information to me.

    but, If I omit 'being' in your sentence, is it still ok?

    1. You being in the shower, I had to answer your phone. ---> You in the shower, I had to answer your phone.

    2. I
    being so much bruised and kicked, the blood was streaming from me in many places. ---> I so much bruised and kicked, the blood was streaming from me in many places.

    3. Nobody being around, I broke the lock. ---> Nobody around, I broke the lock.


    Thank you in advance.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    You cannot omit the participle in correct English. It is a participial absolute construction. The participle is the element which is being used absolutely.
     

    bambina-in-nero

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Do you often use this construction in English? Because I haven't heard it that often...
    Which would be more common and natural to use:

    a"Since you were in the shower, I had to answer the phone"
    b"You being in the shower, I had to answer the phone"

    I'd use a-, anyway...maybe the only sentence where I'd use this participial absolute construction is sentence 3:
    "Nobody being around, I broke the lock"
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    No, it is false.
    There are many examples in Google, e.g.:
    We decided to split up, him spending the day with his family and me staying with mine.

    The participial adjunct may also be at the beginning of the sentence:
    You being in the shower, I had to answer your phone.
    I being so much bruised and kicked, the blood was streaming from me in many places.
    (William Grimes, 1825)
    I agree with you here.
    The pronoun takes the nominative case in formal style, the accusative in informal style.
    I still wonder why the objective case particle (Old English used dative or instrumental cases in absolute participle clauses) should turn into nominative in formal style. Don't you think this is a hypercorrection?
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I agree with you here.
    I still wonder why the objective case particle (Old English used dative or instrumental cases in absolute participle clauses) should turn into nominative in formal style. Don't you think this is a hypercorrection?
    It is strange, yes. But it has never been a popular construction:
    The construction is distinctly alien to English. It has been shown that in Old English it appears as a direct imitation of the Latin Ablative Absolute. ..When we come to Sir Thomas Malory (about 1480) we find the construction fully developed with the Nominative Case:
    There came into his halle, he syttynge in his throne ryal, XIJ auncyen men.
    (Onions 1904)


    There are two competing forces at work: on the one hand the pronoun is the subject of its clause, which seems to call for the nominative, but on the other hand the clause itself is adverbial, which implies an oblique case. Perhaps the real surprise is that the conflict wasn't resolved by an obligate preposition, and in many cases we are a lot more comfortable with a preposition like "with" present. E.g.
    With me spotting her, she ran away.
    With him having finished his coffee, I went out.

    are more likely than the absolute equivalents above.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Interestingly, Onions considers the reintroduction of objective case pronouns "Latinisms" and not low register: "Milton's me overthrown, him destroyed, us dispossessed are mere Latinisms".
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The construction is distinctly alien to English. It has been shown that in Old English it appears as a direct imitation of the Latin Ablative Absolute.
    The fact mentioned does not seem to justify the idea that the construction is alien to English.
    Given its presence in German, Greek and Latin, and perhaps other Indo-European languages of comparable antiquity, it may be that it had been a Germanic usage which dropped out of use when English was becoming a separate tongue.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The fact mentioned does not seem to justify the idea that the construction is alien to English.
    Given its presence in German, Greek and Latin, and perhaps other Indo-European languages of comparable antiquity, it may be that it had been a Germanic usage which dropped out of use when English was becoming a separate tongue.
    Not participle clauses as such are alien to Germanic languages but those with a subject different from that of the main clause. Seeing me, she ran away could be directly translated into German, I seeing her, she ran away not.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    Interestingly, Onions considers the reintroduction of objective case pronouns "Latinisms" and not low register: "Milton's me overthrown, him destroyed, us dispossessed are mere Latinisms".
    That is true, but Onions also says (#61a):
    In modern English, the Case of the Absolute Clause is the Nominative (Nominative Absolute), as is evident when a pronoun is the subject of the clause.

    The somewhat more "modern" view from Huddleston & Pullum (2002:1191):
    Gerund-participials functioning as supplement to a clause may contain a subject; pronouns with a nominative-accusative contrast usually appear in the nominative, with accusative a somewhat marginal alternant in informal style ... the alternation here is not like that between "It's I/me", where the accusative is much more common.

    But I must say that the accusative case is the only one I ever hear in speech in AuE; my son laughed at the nominative version of the above example:
    We decided to split up, he spending the day with his family and I staying with mine.

    Curiously this example (even in the nominative) would not have been idiomatic a century ago, if Onions' ear is to be trusted:
    Its use with a pronoun as subject is limited apparently to cases in which "being" or "having" is the Participle.
    ... so evidently the wheel is still turning, the construction becoming both broader in scope and more often rendered in the accusative.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Curiously this example (even in the nominative) would not have been idiomatic a century ago, if Onions' ear is to be trusted:
    Its use with a pronoun as subject is limited apparently to cases in which "being" or "having" is the Participle.
    ... so evidently the wheel is still turning, the construction becoming both broader in scope and more often rendered in the accusative.
    He changed his view on this over time (Modern English Syntax saw many edition during his lifetime). In his last edition (1971), the passage reads: In general prose, spoken or written, the absolute participle construction is almost limited to conventional phrases like 'weather permitting', 'God willing', 'all being well', 'things being as they are', 'other things being equal', 'that being so'.
     

    toro.96

    New Member
    Italian
    i think i wouldn't use this construction. i'd say 'when you were in the shower, i answered your phone'
    but i'd use this construction in conventional phrases (as berndf said) or with 'with' (sorry for the pun) :)
     
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