In the previous section, phrases were classified according to the words that control them. Sometimes phrases are classified according to their function in a sentence.
An appositive phrase is a noun phrase that renames or re-identifies a noun or noun phrase that precedes it. A simple appositive can contain only one word (a noun), but appositive phrases are common. Appositives are always set off by commas.
- That girl standing over there, the blond, looks just like my cousin.
- Mr. Takeshi, a third-degree black belt, won the karate championship.
- My favorite dessert, chocolate raspberry torte, takes a long time to prepare.
- Her act for the talent show, walking across hot coals, went down in flames.
An absolute phrase does not directly modify a specific noun or pronoun. Instead, it modifies the entire sentence, adding information that would not otherwise be known. An absolute phrase usually contains a noun or pronoun, a participle, and any other words modifying them. Absolute phrases are usually set off by commas. (It is rare, but possible, for absolute phrases to be set off by dashes.)
- Their hope fading as the hours passed, the rescuers searched the rubble for survivors.
- The children, feet covered with mud, waited on the doorstep.
- Carlito faced the angry crowd, his eyes flashing.
If the participle of the absolute phrase is any form of the verb to be, it is usually omitted.
- Carlito faced the angry crowd, his expression grim. (his expression being grim)