Appositives

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A fundamental appositive contributes information that is significant for classifying the noun or pronoun that precedes it. Without the essential appositive, the sentence doesn’t make much sense. In contrast, a unnecessary appositive provides additional information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence whose meaning is already perfect. It gives the reader extra—but nonessential—information. Nonessential appositives should be set off with commas.
Consider the sentence below:

The teacher, Mrs. Brown, was the most amazing person I have ever met.
    • Mrs. Brown is a noun
    • It’s modifying “teacher” (noun)
    • It’s placed beside the noun or pronoun it’s modifying
    • And it’s giving us extra information.


Appositive Definition

An Appositive is a noun or noun phrase or noun clause often with modifiers that retitles another noun or pronoun right beside it. The appositive can be a short or long combination of words. An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it.  (The word appositive comes from the Latin for to put near.) Quite often, appositives are introduced with terms like namely, i.e., that is, and in other words. Look at these appositive examples, all of which rename insect:
  • The insect, a lizard, is crawling across the kitchen table.
  • My brother's car, sporty with leather seats, is the envy of my friends.
  • Your sister Natasha is in trouble.
  • Don't leave your shoes there, or my dog, Ceaser, will munch them.
  • The beast, namely a large lion with curls like a blaze, was starting to show interest in our party.
A phrase is a word or group of words that function as a meaningful unit within a sentence. A clause is a unit of words usually containing a subject and a verb. An appositive is a phrase, usually a noun phrase, that renames another phrase or noun.
If the appositive is just additional information (i.e., you could remove it from the sentence without any loss of meaning), then offset it from the remainder of the sentence using commas. (You could also use parentheses (i.e., brackets) or dashes instead of commas.) When an appositive is just additional information, it is classified as non-restrictive. We may think of an appositive as a simplified adjective clause. Appositives can be either essential (restrictive) or nonessential (nonrestrictive).The punctuation surrounding the appositive depends on its necessity in the sentence. To determine this, you must first understand restrictive versus nonrestrictive clauses. 

A restrictive clause is one that is needed in the sentence because it limits the options in some way. A nonrestrictive clause is one that is not needed in the sentence and can be removed without affecting the underlying meaning. Restrictive clauses do not need to be set off by commas, but nonrestrictive ones do.


Appositive Examples

Examples of Appositives are mentioned below:
  1. My cat, Donald, found its way home from the beach.
  2. I took a cookie from Emma, who is the woodcutter's daughter.
  3. Dressed in a turquoise ballgown, Jerushaa was the bell of the ball.
  4. He took his youngest son, Adrian, fishing for the first time.
  5. It, precisely the whale's tail, was as hefty as we feared.
  6. Vinyl, the oldest singer in town, was out all night on Saturday.
  7. My sister, who is a manager at Dubai, drives a company car.
  8. No, the chest — your chest I might add — is still in the hallway.
  9. His fish, Jack and Jill, need to be fed once a day.
  10. My best friend, Kaveri, lives in Finland.
  11. The girl, who is the quickest, ran down the street.
  12. The bookshelf, an antique piece of furniture, was moved into the house first.
  13. My childhood home, a blue and yellow house, is just down the road.
  14. Rio de Janeiro, a city in Brazil, is famous for its Carnival celebration.
  15. Dr. James, the creator of the rye brew, sold 10 barrels on the first day.
  16. Artist Michelangelo famously painted many notable works like Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
  17. Cha-cha Gold, who is a professional magician, performed at my friend’s birthday party.
  18. Candy, the dog that lives next door, likes to go for walks in the park.
  19. My best friend, Jonathan, caught a squirrel when he was fishing at the water's edge.
  20. John Mayors, a European journalist, helped found the NGO in Europe.

Appositive Exercise

Highlight (Bold) and punctuate the appositives in the following sentences. Not all require punctuation.
  • Her husband, Pierre Curie, was also a scientist.
  • Hank Aaron, the right fielder from Alabama, broke Babe Ruth’s record for home runs.
  • Angela studied the explorer Vasco da Gama.
  • The famous baseball player Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs
  • Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, was the first European to reach India by sea.
  • Dapphi’s brother, Darren, plays the flute.
  • My mom, Ellena, volunteers at the city library.
  • The band played “Panther Pride,” the school’s fight song, during the graduation ceremony.
  • The scientist Marie Curie was born in 1867.
  • The character Tom appears in Chapter seven
  • His cousin Regina has a magnificent coin collection.
  • The book PS I love you is John’s favorite novel.
  • Anto, a tall and slender man, rescued the kitten from the tree.
  • The novelist Jack London wrote Call of the Wild.
  • Last week, Freddie witnessed an odd event, a dog and a horse taking a nap together.
  • The professor, a woman of keen insight, explained her interpretation of the story.