The parts of structures are called detached if by some specific consideration of the writer one of the secondary parts of the sentence is placed so that it seems formally independent of the word it logically refers to [2, 8].

The essential quality of detached construction lies in the fact that the isolated parts represent a kind of independent whole thrust into the sentence or placed in a position which will make the phrase (or word) seem independent. But a detached phrase cannot rise to the rank of a primary member of the sentence – it always remains secondary from the semantic point of view, although structurally it possesses all the features of a primary member. This clash of the structural and semantic aspects of detached constructions produces the desired effect – forcing the reader to interpret the logical connections between the component parts of the sentence. Logical ties between them always exist in spite of the absence of syntactical indicators [40].

The structural patterns of detached constructions have not yet been classified, but the most noticeable cases are those in which an attribute or an adverbial modifier is placed not in immediate proximity to its referent, but in some other position, as in the following examples [40]:

Steyne rose up, grinding his teeth, pale, and with fury in his eyes. Sir Pitt came in first, very much flushed, and rather unsteady in his gait.

Detached adverbials being more loosely related to the modified parts of the sentence than non-detached adverbials are never obligatory. They are separated from the rest of the sentence by intonation in speaking and by commas in writing.

Detachment of adverbials may be caused by various factors, the most important of which are their meaning, the form of expression, their extension, their position in the sentence, or the speaker’s desire for emphasis. Owing to their structure and meaning, absolute constructions are nearly always detached [4]:

‘I want to go,’ he said, miserable.

Wesley saw the boat, its decks deserted.

Adverbials are detached when they are placed in an unusual position, as in the following examples:

Like him, she saw danger in it.

Randall, for all his tiresomeness and badness, had always been her Randall.

Any adverbial may be detached if the speaker wishes to emphasize its meaning:

 “He was her father,” said Frances Wilmot, gravely.

Participial phrases as adverbials also tend to be detached:

She then returned to her place, not having spoken another word.

In many cases an attribute expressed by Participle I is detached, i.e. it acquires certain independence in the sentence; the connection between the attribute and the word it modifies is loose [4].

For example:

It was the entrance to a large family vault, extending under the north aisle.

When a participial phrase is used as attribute it follows the modified noun. Its verbal character is evident from its verbal combinability and sometimes from the passive form itself. A participial phrase may be (a) non-detached or (b) detached [4]:

  1. a) We went along the street leading to the seashore.

 Emma sat in the armchair facing the door.

  1. b) Once a month Tommy, arriving separately, came in for a brief drink.

Participle I can form a detached semi-predicative construction, known as the absolute participial construction, which does not intersect in any of its components with the primary sentence part [6], for instance:

The weather being fine, we decided to take a walk; I won’t speak with him staring at me like that.

When a participial phrase is detached, its position is not fixed. It may occupy the initial position, the mid-position or the final position in the sentence [4]. For example:

Greatly excited, the children followed her into the garden.

Johnson, left in charge of both officers, marched about for a little while.

And people hurried by, hidden under their dreadful umbrellas.

To the Detachment can be reckoned in propositional phases used with noun, pronoun, gerund or clause. They bring new sense to the sentence and may have an influence on the context inside the sentence. Some of these propositional phrases are:

According to

Because of

By means of


In addition to

In case of

Instead of

In spite of / despite

On account of


For example:

In spite of the obstacles, a number of courageous women still put their pens to the page. Read about some American authors who broke down barriers and paved the way, through the centuries, for the contemporary women writers whose works you love to read today [COCA, ACAD, 2010].

They present, according to him and his colleagues, a previously unacknowledged, alternate native history [COCA, ACAD, 2011].

Detached constructions in their common forms make the written variety of language akin to the spoken variety where the relation between the component parts is effectively materialized by means of intonation. Detached construction, as it were, becomes a peculiar device bridging the norms of written and spoken language [39].

Parenthesis is often considered to be a variant of detached construction. A parenthesis offers additional information to a sentence. If a parenthesis is removed from a sentence, the sentence is still grammatically sound. In fact parenthesis sometimes embodies a considerable volume of predicativeness, thus giving the utterance an additional nuance of meaning or a tinge of emotional colouring.

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