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In literature (particularly fiction), there will often be examples of supplementary adjectives and absolute constructions in which a participle isn't present. My question boils down to how we analyse such passages. My instinct tells me that the present participle 'being' has been omitted; however, it has been difficult to find sufficient evidence that supports my assumption.

These are some examples I have invented:

His face [being] bloody, he entered the room.

[Being] Bloody and sore, he entered the room.

For real-life literary examples, please see the following two extracts (from Red Seas under Red Skies and a Dishonored novel):

... shouted Locke, [being] unable to disguise his mirth, ....

Her body, [being] lithe and athletic, ....

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    The phrasing of "His face being bloody, he entered the room" could imply that was the reason he entered the room. But "His face bloody, he entered the room" is just a description. The last two examples need a complete sentence to know anything about their context. The being isn't optional – it has a purpose, and adding it could change the meaning intended by the author. Jan 12, 2022 at 15:26
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    There are all kinds of syntactic rules that have the effect of losing various predictable forms of be (often in combination with other function words, like Whiz-deletion or to be-deletion). Jan 12, 2022 at 15:59
  • Only your first example is an absolute construction — note that there are two different subjects (his face and he). When the construction contains a to be form, we can omit it. Jan 13, 2022 at 17:53

2 Answers 2

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[1] [His face bloody], he entered the room.

[2] [Bloody and sore], he entered the room.

The bracketed element in [1] is a supplementary adjunct, more specifically the verbless analogue of the absolute clause in "[His face being bloody], he entered the room".

The bracketed element in [2] is also a supplement, but it is not a verbless clause. Rather, it is an adjective phrase in predicative function with "he" as predicand. Compare "bloody and sore" as predicative complement in "He was [bloody and sore]".

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Is 'being' omitted in certain participle clauses and absolute constructions?

Hmmm... Sometimes, but not in the way you think:

The first two differ from the second two:

  1. His face being bloody, he entered the room. This does not mean what you think it means. It means, "Because his face was bloody, he entered the room."

Compare "The handle being hot, his fingers were burned."

You probably meant "His face bloodied, he entered the room", which means " "With his face, which had been bloodied [by someone or something], he entered the room"

"His face bloodied" is an adverbial free modifier.

  1. [in the state of being] Bloody and sore, he entered the room.

Bloody and sore is an adverbial free modifier.

  1. ... shouted Locke, [who was] unable to disguise his mirth, ....

In your example, this is a reduced relative clause.

  1. Her body, [which was] lithe and athletic, ....

In your example, this is a reduced relative clause.

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  • Though one sense of 'His face bloody, he entered the [especially medical] room' is the reading with the causal relation, one of mere simultaneity is also possible. 'Her hair streaming in the wind, she raced across the beach' hardly shows causality. And it's unlikely that 'He entered the room, his face bloody and bruised' does. You need to back up your often plausible (and possibly dangerously so) claims with good references. Jan 12, 2022 at 16:39
  • @EdwinAshworth as always, your comments are thought provoking. However, on this occasion, you might like to compare the OP's example and yours - (hint: active and stative verbs) you will find that they are quite different, and, for that reason, I am unable to accept your comment.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 12, 2022 at 17:00
  • Both 'Her hair flapping in the wind, Lucy cycled down the hill' and 'Her hair now pink and green, Lucy set off for the party' show simultaneity rather than causality (from absolute to main clause). Jan 12, 2022 at 17:49
  • @EdwinAshworth The question is about the possible omission/insertion of "being". Can you explain to the OP why, exactly, you are (1) using a dynamic verb in the first example and (2) omitting "being" from your second example? Her hair being now pink and green, Lucy set off for the party'
    – Greybeard
    Jan 13, 2022 at 10:48
  • Her hair now being pink and green, Lucy set off for the party is an absolute construction that can be reduced to Her hair now pink and green, Lucy set off for the party. They mean the same thing. (cc @EdwinAshworth) Jan 13, 2022 at 17:50

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