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What is the name of the grammatical construction "noun + present participle", i.e. a noun phrase followed by a participle as in the sentence "His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but seeing no reflection again."?

The noun I'm referring to is "panic" and the participle is "fading".

Well, I already know the answer it's nominative absolute which was appropriately pointed out by KarlG and the credit goes to him. I looked it up to further clear things out.

What I gathered is the absolute phrase only describes the circumstances of the main clause. The participle modifies the subject of the absolute phrase. And as I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, the present participle as a part of the absolute phrase doesn't imply any ongoing action.

So, the sentence in question can be rewritten, without any change in meaning, in the following manner: "When his panic faded now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but seeing no reflection again."

  • The "..." suggests that what you're calling a sentence is actually a sentence fragment. It may seem strange or ungrammatical out of context. It will be hard to give you a definite expert answer without the context. – MetaEd May 24 '18 at 16:33
  • Possibly the complete sentence is: "His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but seeing no reflection again." (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) – MetaEd May 24 '18 at 16:36
  • @KarlG Please use comments only to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Do not use comments to answer (post an answer instead). Note that an answer which consists of barely more than a link is not useful and may be removed even if it is correct. (more) – MetaEd May 24 '18 at 20:36
  • @MetaEd: Actually, I posted the link after the question was closed because I didn't want the OP to go away empty-handed. It was clear the question was about an absolute construction. Thanks for making this stack such a welcoming place. – KarlG May 24 '18 at 20:57
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    @MetaEd: I meant welcoming to first posters. You put a question on hold that's obviously about nominative absolutes. How is someone who thinks fading is somehow a noun going to "research" that question? So I post a link, which then disappears, replaced by a lecture. Thus the OP now knows far more about your interpretation of site guidelines than absolute constructions. – KarlG May 25 '18 at 9:35
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A participle in an absolute construction

  • always has a subject
  • relates to an entire clause or action
  • stands in no clear grammatical relationship to another element in the sentence.

A present participle in an absolute, as in your example, describes an action/state more or less simultaneous to the one in the main clause:

The train came to an abrupt halt, the locomotive's brakes screeching loudly, our car shaking from the impact of one carriage crushing into another. — Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, German Boy: A Refugee’s Story, 2009.

Melinda sat sideways, her legs dangling out the door of the SUV while she ate the meal her mom had brought her. — Chantilly White, Snow Angel, 2014.

The storm unrelenting, he called them, “Gotta check on you two. Want me to drive down to help? Sure, I was there earlier today, but you two are more than worth a second visit in the same day.” — Mark Henry Miller, Murder in the Chapel, 2013.

A perfect participle indicates a prior action in the past, analogous to the past perfect in standard past-tense narration:

The holiday was full of adventure; I remember hearing my mother whispering the Lord’s Prayer as we crawled along the cliff road in search of a garage, our car having developed a serious mechanical problem with the axle. — Lee Arbouin, The Nottingham Connection, 2012, 252.

The road extends from Erie to the Michigan-Ohio line and the inspection was made preparatory to work the coming summer, the road having been recently taken over by the county. — Michigan Roads and Construction, vol. 22 (1925),150.

A past participle in an absolute occasionally cues an action or state already completed:

The battle won again, he dove under his bedcovers and waited whilst she tucked him in. — Aldrea Alien, The Rogue King, 2014.

But most of the time, it is descriptive background:

The American flag hanging from a pole in the interior clapped sharply with every gust of wind, its colors muted gray in the faint light. — Jordanna Max Brodsky, Winter of the Gods, 2017.

Then as he racked his memory, he heard the sharp crackling of a fusillade; he saw a standard fall before him, its staff broken and its folds drooping like the wings of a bird brought down by a shot. — Emile Zola, The Fortune Of The Rougons, 2016.

The memories were banished and he was left in the dark bedroom, standing near the prince's bed, the silence broken by his thoughtless murmur. — Ash Stinson, The Broken Soldier, 2014, 264.

If the participle is a form of to be, it is frequently omitted, leaving it to the reader to supply being or having been according to context.

The journey finally over, we were washed up on the shore of day, given sweet orange juice to drink and shood gently on our way by a silent person in a Green Man Mask.

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His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but seeing no reflection again.

The present participle fading does indicate (not just implies) ongoing action, as does wanting. Both ing forms show ongoing action. The "circumstance" that the absolute clause shows can be ongoing. On the other hand, using faded instead of fading one shows that the action has stopped.

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