An appositive

An appositive is a word or a phrase re-naming or amplifying a noun/object right beside it. An appositive phrase does not exist on its own; it is a function of the phrases we already know, but acting as an appositive, therefore, all phrases which may act as nominals. An appositive phrase is set off by commas unless it is closely tied with a noun so that it renames it.

We will talk more about apposition while discussing defining and non-defining relative clauses.

My son Richard is a student. A vocative closely related and the comma is not needed. She probably has another son. In a sentence: My son, Richard, is a student, we understand that she has only one son.

Our teacher, Peter, is a very nice guy.
A vocative - a noun adding extra information about our teacher. Two commas separate the appositive from the sentence.

Professor Henry, a mathematics teacher at London's university, is going to visit New York next month.

The girl in a red dress is Sara Patterson of East Yorkshire, the best student in our class.

An appositive phrase can be a compound phrase, in the same way as a noun or an object.

Two girls, Jane and Juliet, went for help.

I have two hobbies, collecting stamps and watching BBC documentaries.

An appositive phrase may help us to create an interesting sentence instead of having two, short ones.

Compare: This girl is Jane. She is my sister.
This girl is my sister Jane.

I have been reading a book. The title of this book is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.
I have been reading a book, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

The best pastime, reading books, is less and less popular amongst teenagers, the generation of WhatsApp.
Two appositive, first a gerund phrase and the second a noun phrase.

Peter's dream, to become a famous singer, has not come true, so far.  An infinitive phrase acting as a noun phrase and an appositive, modifying Peter's dream.


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