An absolute word is one that is complete and total. Words that are inclusive, all-encompassing, an end in themselves, and cannot be modified in any way.
Think about it.
If you are unique, you are the ONLY one of your kind. You are unlike ANYthing else. You’re not more unique than her. Or him, for that matter *grin* On the bright side, you can’t be less unique.
She’s dead. She’s not too dead. She’s not sort of dead. She’s not mostly dead. She’s not deader than him. She’s not less dead or more dead. She’s either dead, or she’s alive.
Your boss may ask if you’ve finished the project. So, either it’s complete or it’s not complete. No, it’s not half completed. It may be half done, but you have not come to the end and dotted all the is or crossed all the ts.
If you get the urge to modify an absolute word — very unique, less perfect, almost finite, etc. — get out the thesaurus and find a better word.
Let me know if you have an absolute word you’d like to see added to the list.
Grammar Explanations is…
…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone… Are there areas of grammar with which you struggle? If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page. And consider sharing this Grammar Explanation with friends by tweeting it.