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Nov. 13th, 2006 @ 09:43 pm Appositives
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An appositive is a noun or pronoun -- often with modifiers -- set beside another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it. Here are some examples of appositives.

Your friend Bill is in trouble.
My brother's car, a sporty red convertible with bucket seats, is the envy of my friends.
The chief surgeon, an expert in organ-transplant procedures, took her nephew on a hospital tour.

An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it.

A bold innovator, Wassily Kandinsky is known for his colorful abstract paintings.
The first state to ratify the US Constitution, Delaware is rich in history.
A beautiful collie, Skip was my favorite dog.

Punctuation of appositives

In some cases, the noun being explained is too general without the appositive; the information is essential to the meaning of the sentence. When this is the case, do not place commas around the appositive; just leave it alone. If the sentence would be clear and complete without the appositive, then commas are necessary; place one before and one after the appositive.

Here are some examples.

A beautiful collie, Skip was my favorite dog. Here we do not put commas around the appositive, because it is essential information. Without the appositive, the sentence would be The popular US president was known for his eloquent and inspirational speeches. We wouldn't know which president was being referred to.
John Kennedy, the popular US president, was known for his eloquent and inspirational speeches. Here we put commas around the appositive because it is not essential information. Without the appositive, the sentence would be John Kennedy was known for his eloquent and traditional speeches. We still know who the subject of the sentence is without the appositive.
John Kennedy the popular US president was quite different from John Kennedy the unfaithful husband. Here we do not put commas around either appositive because they are both essential to understanding the sentence. Without the appositives, the sentence would just be John Kennedy was quite different from John Kennedy. We wouldn't know what qualities of John Kennedy were being referred to without the appositive.


Exercise

Underline the appositives in the following sentences.

1. My son, the policeman, will be visiting us next week.
2. The captain ordered the ship's carpenters to assemble the shallop, a large rowboat.
3. Walter, the playboy and writer, is very attached to his mother, Mrs. Hammon.
4. The actor Paul Newman directed only one picture.
5. Elizabeth Teague, a sweet and lovable girl, grew up to be a mentally troubled woman.

Underline and punctuate the appositives in the following sentences. Remember: not all require punctuation.

6. Sweetbriar a company known throughout the South is considering a nationwide advertising campaign.
7. An above-average student and talented musician John made his family proud.
8. The extremely popular American film Titanic was widely criticized for its mediocre script.
9. The greatest American film ever made Citizen Kane won only one Academy Award.
10. 60 Minutes the TV news magazine program featured a story on the popular singer Whitney Houston.


 

 

Answers to Appositives Exercise


 

Exercise:

Underline the appositives in the following sentences.

1. My son, the policeman, will be visiting us next week.
2. The captain ordered the ship's carpenters to assemble the shallop, a large rowboat.
3. Walter, the playboy and writer, is very attached to his mother, Mrs. Hammon.
4. The actor Paul Newman directed only one picture.
5. Elizabeth Teague, a sweet and lovable girl, grew up to be a mentally troubled woman.

Underline and punctuate the appositives in the following sentences. Remember: not all require punctuation.

6. Sweetbriar, a company known throughout the South, is considering a nationwide advertising campaign.
7. An above-average student and talented musician, John made his family proud.
8. The extremely popular American film Titanic was widely criticized for its mediocre script.
9. The greatest American film ever made, Citizen Kane won only one Academy Award.
10. 60 Minutes, the TV news magazine program, featured a story on the popular singer Whitney Houston.

 


http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/