What is the difference between a supplemental noun phrase and a absolute clause? In these examples and in general. Is it just the non-finite nature of the second example? Are they not serving a similar purpose?

He won at his favourite sport, the long-jump, and brought another medal home for the U.S, the most fitting conclusion to his brilliant career in track and field.

Noun phrase functioning as a supplement/ syntactically separate element.

He just stood there, his face clearly revealing his disappointment.

Absolute clause: called absolute because it serves no grammatical function in the sentence. It just adds supplemental information.

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    Isn’t one important difference that one is an NP—a phrase headed by a noun, that acts like a noun—and the other is a clause?
    – herisson
    Jan 27, 2019 at 16:14
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    @sumelic That's obviously an important formal difference, but I suspect what the OP is after is a functional difference?
    – Hannah
    Jan 27, 2019 at 18:58
  • Is the first example taken from a printed source? I'd expect something more heavyweight than a comma before such a fragment (a full stop, even). There's arguably a deleted subject + verb (...; this was ...). Aug 14, 2023 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


An absolute clause must include both a subject ("his face") and a predicate ("clearly revealing his disappointment"). Your first example ("the most fitting conclusion to his brilliant career in track and field") is just a single noun phrase.

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    'He just stood there, his face a picture of disappointment' might prove more tricky to pin down. Jul 15, 2023 at 18:13
  • @EdwinAshworth It seems like there might be an implicit linking verb there, since forms of "to be" are often elided. So, your sentence seems equivalent in meaning to "He just stood there, his face [being] a picture of disappointment." (Yes, I do realize how awkward the non-elided version sounds!) 2 days ago
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    @Quack E. Duck Some even include, within absolute constructions, 'absolute adjectives' (CGEL adherents insist on just one of the three definitions here, and not this one) as in 'Exhausted, Jim flopped on the grass' (compare 'Happy with his lolly, Jim didn't see the flamingo flying by'). 2 days ago

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