What is Appositive Phrase

What is an Appositive

Before looking at the term appositive phrase, let us first understand the meaning of the term appositive. An appositive is a noun, pronoun, noun phrase or noun clause which sits next to another noun to rename or describe it. Here are some examples of appositives.

My brother Paul is not well.

(In this example, the appositive is Paul. It renames the noun brother.)

Mrs. Anderson, the principal of my school, went abroad.

(In this example, the appositive is the principal of my school. It describes the noun, Mrs. Anderson.)

Appositives are usually offset with commas, brackets, or dashes. As mentioned above, an appositive can be a noun, phrase or a clause.

Rusty, a dog, stared at me. – Noun

Rusty, a rust colored large dog, stared at me. – Phrase

Rusty, a rust colored large dog who looked hungry, stared at me. – Clause

What is Appositive Phrase

An appositive phrase is a group of words that renames or describes another noun that sits next to it. An appositive phrase can be a long or a short combination of words. It typically contains the appositive and its modifiers.

Appositive phrases can be essential or nonessential. Phrases that provide information that is necessary to identify the noun are called essential appositive phrases and phrases that do not provide essential information are called non-essential appositive phrases. Essential phrases are not set off by commas, but non-essential phrases are separated by commas.

Essential appositive phrases:

Your friend Sally is in trouble.

The author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Non-essential appositive phrases:

My brother’s car, a sporty red convertible, is the envy of his friends.

Mrs. Sampson, an expert in special education, took over the class.

What is Appositive Phrase

Tigger, our neighbor’s cat, looks like a little tiger cub.

Examples of Appositive Phrase

Given below are some more examples of appositive phrases. Observe the difference between essential and non-essential phrases in these sentences.

Abraham Lincoln, the popular US president, is known for his efforts in ending slavery.

The insect, a small cockroach, crept under his bed.

Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer award in 1961.

They received a shock as they entered my brother’s room, the messiest area in our house.

Her dad, who is a doctor, drove her to the hospital.

Minnie, our neighbor’s poodle, was stolen in the middle of the night.

My brother Aryan is 16 years old.

The artist who painted this picture is dead.

He likes to eat poori, an unleavened deep-fried Indian bread.

The man who witnessed the crime has disappeared.

New Delhi, the capital of India, is the second most populous metropolis in India.

Appositive Phrase – Summary

  • An appositive phrase is a group of words that renames or describes another noun that sits next to it.
  • It typically contains an appositive and its modifiers.
  • An appositive phrase can be essential or non-essential.
  • Non-essential phrases are set apart by commas whereas essential appositive phrases are not set apart by commas.

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