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Appositive - Definition and Examples


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You are probably using appositives all the time without realizing it.  An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that defines another.  The appositive is often set off with commas or a dash.

Here are some examples.  The appositive will be in bold type and will tell us something more about the noun that it follows.

Debra, my sister's best friend, paid us a surprise visit yesterday. 

There are several books on the top shelf, first editions, which we bought on eBay. 

Eight grad students, alumni of the adjacent college, have formed a study group.

The appositive can also appear in front of the noun as in these examples:

A renown violinist, Larry is also an excellent chess player.

A trailblazer in film editing, John is a visiting professor at our school this semester.

Can you think of some examples?  Or do you remember having used some appositives recently?

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Appositive Definition

Thanks Laura for making easier something that, as you said, we often use without even realized it.

Many times I have to submit articles to sites with strict grammar guidelines and sometimes I found something about using (or avoid using) appositives, but I'm always confused about this  :sweating:

However I finally got it!!!  :lol:

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  • 4 years later...

Thanks Laura for all those wonderful explanations about the definition of the appositive. I think it is pretty easy after all. 

If you still have problems with the appositive, you might wanna have a look at that picture here. It might help you to better grasp the idea of the appositive.

It works exactly the same in German, too. ---> by the wayAppositive Definition.jpg

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Appositive Definition

Let us get in some more detail about the appositives. In general the Appositives can be defined as: two words or word groups which mean the same thing and are placed together. Appositives identify or explain the nouns or pronouns which they modify:

My friend Mark, teacher at the university of Oxford, is a noble man. 

We can say that "teacher at the university of Oxford" in an appositive or is in apposition to "my friend Mark". "teacher at the university of Oxford" is giving us some additional info about Mark. 


Appositive Phrases

An appositive phrase includes an appositive and its modifiers:

My favorite team, the New York Knicks, are located in New York, a very nice city in the United States.


Furthermore when it comes to Appositives, we need to distinguish Restrictive Appositives from Non-restrictive Appositives.  A restrictive appositive is necessary to maintain the meaning of the sentence and does not require commas. Usually, a restrictive appositive is a single word closely related to the preceding word. It "restricts" or narrows the meaning of the word it modifie

Let me give you some examples:

The musician Jay-Z will come to Switzerland soon.

Jay-Z restrics the general term "musician"

My brother Daniel has 3 different cars.

Daniel restricts the meaning of brother...i guess you get the idea.


Nonrestrictive Appositive

Apart from restrictive appositves there also exist non-restrictive appositives. The definition of non-restrictive appositives is as follows: 

A nonrestrictive appositive may be omitted without changing the basic meaning of the sentence. A nonrestrictive appositive is separated by commas. Commas are always used when the word which the appositive modifies is a proper noun.

Let us use our previous examples and change them a little bit, so that they can illustrate non-restrictive appositives:

Jay-Z, the musician, will come to Switzeralnd to perform. 

In this case, "the musician" is simply offering additional information abou the rapper Name Jay-Z, that could be ommitted without losing general information. 

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