The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.411-426
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Mar 2020
Received 13 Aug 2020 Revised 16 Sep 2020 Accepted 21 Sep 2020

The English Absolute Constructions

Yangsoon Kim
Hanbat National University

Copyright 2020 KASELL
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the syntactic and semantic properties of the absolute constructions in English from a synchro-diachronic perspective. The non-finite adverbial adjunct clause with an overt subject is referred to as an absolute clause, in which “absolute” is manifested from two aspects: an overt subject which is not coreferential with the subject of the main clause and no need of conjunction. This paper is mainly concerned with three questions: (i) what syntactic and semantic properties the absolute clauses have; (ii) why a subject cannot be deleted in the absolute clauses unlike other ~ing (participial) free adjuncts; (iii) why the absolute clauses are productive in PDE. Following Kortmann (1991), two types of the absolute clauses are discussed here: the augmented absolute clause, [with + NPsubj + modifiers] and the unaugmented absolute clause, [NPsubj + ~ing]. I propose a TP-adjoined CP structure for the unaugmented absolute clause and a TP-adjoined PP structure for the augmented absolute clause, providing an explicit structural and semantic explanation for the first and second questions (i) and (ii). The answer to the question (iii) is based on the diachronic explanation of Latinism and the grammaticalization process since the Middle English period.


absolute construction, (un)augmented absolute clause, overt subject, TP-adjoined CP, TP-adjoined PP


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Yangsoon Kim, Professor125 Dongseo-daero, Yuseoung-gu, Daejeon City 34158, KoreaDepartment of English Language and LiteratureHanbat National UniversityE-mail: