Appositives and Appositive Phrases

May 22, 2021

Definition: An appositive is a word or phrase that renames the noun. It makes positively sure you know what the writer is talking about. We say that an appositive is “in apposition” to the noun, which means that it’s next to the noun.

My uncle, a doctor, is moving to New Jersey.
(Uncle and doctor are the same person. Doctor is in apposition to uncle.)
That apple, a Golden Delicious, is best for eating as is.
(Apple and Golden Delicious are the same thing. Golden Delicious is in apposition to apple.)
My sister Marcy wants to be a lawyer.
(Sister and Marcy are the same person. Marcy is in apposition to sister.)

Definition: An appositive phrase is the appositive and its modifiers.

My uncle, a doctor in California, is moving to New Jersey.
That apple, a variety of apple called Golden Delicious, tastes best when eaten as is.

Hint: Think of appositives and appositive phrases as if they were in parentheses.

My uncle (a doctor) is moving to New Jersey.
That apple (a variety called Golden Delicious) is best for eating as is.

Note: An appositive can be a word, a phrase, or even a clause. Noun clauses are covered in the Clauses module.

The appositive usually follows the noun it modifies.

George, my best friend, is from Hawaii. (The appositive noun is friend.)
My best friend George is from Hawaii. (The appositive is George.)

An appositive that precedes the noun it modifies will be separated from the sentence by a comma.

A famous Arabian horse, the Darley Arabian is one of the ancestors of many modern Thoroughbreds.
(Horse is the appositive noun. Darley Arabian is the subject.)