Linguistic Terms

Appositives in English

Appositives in English?

The appositives are nouns or pronouns that are usually accompanied by modifiers and that are located next to another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it. In the following examples you will see the nouns or pronouns underlined and the appositives in bold.

  • My cousin, Bill, is going to travel to Africa – My cousin Bill is going to travel to Africa
  • Her parents ‘car, a blue convertible, is going to be fixed – Her parents’ car, a blue convertible, is going to be repaired.
  • My best friend, Sarah , is moving in with me.
    (My best friend, Sarah, is moving with me.)
  • Her first teacher, Mrs. Jones , was a strict person.
    (Her first teacher, Mrs. Jones, was a strict person.)
  • The CEO, a very smart man , decided to sell the company.
    (The CEO, a very intelligent man, decided to sell the company.)

Position of Appositives:

Although appositives usually go immediately after the prayer segment they want to explain, they can also be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence.

At the beginning of the sentence:

  • One of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, was also an excellent writer – One of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, was also an excellent writer.
  • The city that never sleeps , Vegas, is a nice place to have fun – The city that never sleeps, Las Vegas, is a good place to have fun.

In the middle of the sentence:

  • Paul McCartney, a wonderful musician, will visit our city – Paul McCartney, a wonderful musician, will visit our city.
  • My father, who is a really patient person, will teach my son how to ride his bike – My father, who is a very patient person, will teach my son how to ride his bike.

At the end of the sentence:

  • I will marry my boyfriend, a respectful and lovely man – I will marry my boyfriend, an adorable and respectful man.
  • She will buy a new house,  a bigger one. – She will buy a new house, a bigger one.

Types of appositives


Appositives can be of two kinds, restrictive and non-restrictive.

We say that an appositive is not restrictive when the information provided to the sentence is not indispensable to understand the meaning.

Instead, a restrictive appositive is the one that is fundamental to understanding prayer and avoiding ambiguities.

  • Her Sister Carol is going to graduate from the university – My sister Carol will graduate from the University.

In the previous case, it is important to clarify which sister we are talking about because they may present misunderstandings.

Appositives score:

When using appositives it is important to make good use of punctuation marks. In most cases the appositives are separated from the rest of the sentence by using commas.

When it is a non-restrictive appositive , the clause that is added must be separated from the other components of the sentence with two commas before and after the appositive.

If it is a restrictive appositive , it is not necessary to use any punctuation.

With the above keys we can identify when an appositive is restrictive and when it is non-restrictive.


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