THE WRITE STUFF!
An appositive is a word or group of words that adds information to a sentence by renaming nouns - defining or summarising them. Appositives are an excellent tool to introduce sentence variety, giving writers more ways to combine information and embed it in a sentence.
To highlight how appositives work, take a look at these sentences: * Sawitri is serious. * She is a university student. * She lives in Bangkok. All of these sentences can be combined into one sentence: Sawitri, a serious university student, lives in Bangkok.
The appositive is the noun or noun phrase, often with modifiers (a serious university student), that immediately follows another noun (Sawitri). The appositive, always set off by commas, explains or defines the noun it follows. Examples:
* My new car, a sporty, red convertible, is the envy of all my friends. * St Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, was never married.
- Warning! An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it. Example:
* A Muay Thai legend, Nai Kanom Tom is commemorated by a statue in Ayutthaya.
- Punctuating the appositive correctly
In some cases, the noun being explained is too broad without the appositive, and the information is essential to the meaning of the sentence.The rule is that only appositives that are extra information get commas. If the information is essential, you don't use commas. Example:
* The famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare died in 1616.
The trick to finding out if the information is essential is to determine if the sentence would be clear and complete without the appositive. By removing the appositive, the sentence would read, "The famous English poet and playwright died in 1616." This is too broad, so the "William Shakespeare" portion is essential and commas are not necessary.
- Non-essential appositive: William Shakespeare, the famous English poet and playwright, died in 1616.
Quick tip: Remember that extra information means you have to set it off using extra commas.
Heather Vlach is an English-language specialist and Intensive Studies educator at International School Bangkok in Nonthaburi. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.