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According to the answers to the question "Is a melee spell attack also a melee attack?", a melee spell attack is a melee attack. Meaning that if I were to cast absorb elements after being hit by a fire bolt, I can add 1d6 fire damage to my next shocking grasp.

As a sorcerer, could I combine this with the Distant Spell Metamagic option?

Using a sorcery point allows me to give a touch-range spell a range of 30 feet instead. Is shocking grasp now a melee spell attack with a range of 30 feet, and therefore eligible for the extra damage granted by absorb elements?

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Yes, because the spell is still a melee spell

Looking at Sage Advice (see quote below) the Distant Spell Metamagic just adds a range of 30ft as you've said, but the spell is still considered a melee spell, thus a melee attack so you can add the 1d6 fire damage to it.

Ironforged @JeremyECrawford If you use distant spell on a touch spell like shocking grasp, is it still considered a melee spell attack? I know steel wind strike is a spell that melee spell attack with a range of 30ft, are distant touch spells like that?

Jeremy Crawford Distant Spell changes range. It doesn't change anything else about a spell. #DnD

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Yes.

From the PHB (emphasis mine) :

Most creatures have a 5-foot reach and can thus attack targets within 5 feet of them when making a melee attack. Certain creatures (typically those larger than Medium) have melee attacks with a greater reach than 5 feet, as noted in their descriptions.

The distance doesn't seem to matter, as long as you have the reach, you can make a melee attack. Distant spell gives you the reach, Shocking Grasp makes you do a melee attack, thus the effect triggers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Another example is Bigby's Hand (dnd-spells.com/spell/bigbys-hand): you magically control an object that can make a Melee Spell Attack on your behalf. It might make sense to think of Distant Spell as applying Touch spells through a magic object that touches the target, maybe instead of the spell going out through your fingers and becoming a melee attack with huge reach. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jan 4 at 22:15

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