Appositives: Renaming Words and Other Terms

2019-11-08

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1
  • Imagine you want to improve your writing skills.
  • 2
  • Perhaps you would like to take an English test or use English in a business email.
  • 3
  • Today on Everyday Grammar, we will talk about something that could help you: appositives.
  • 4
  • We will explain the grammar rules behind appositives and demonstrate how to use them in sentences.
  • 5
  • Let us begin with a few definitions.
  • 6
  • An appositive is a word or group of words that renames something else.
  • 7
  • An appositive is often a noun or noun phrase that helps explain or identify another noun or a pronoun.
  • 8
  • Take this sentence, for example:
  • 9
  • My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
  • 10
  • The subject of the sentence is my best friend.
  • 11
  • The name Ahmed is an appositive.
  • 12
  • It adds information to the sentence.
  • 13
  • What is important is that the sentence is grammatically correct without the appositive.
  • 14
  • So, our example without the appositive would read:
  • 15
  • My best friend studies English literature.
  • 16
  • Now, let us consider a more complex example.
  • 17
  • Imagine you are reading a crime novel.
  • 18
  • Perhaps the book has the following lines.
  • 19
  • Police questioned the next suspect, the victim's ex-wife.
  • 20
  • In this example, the victim's ex-wife is the appositive.
  • 21
  • The words give readers more information about the next suspect.
  • 22
  • If the sentence did not have an appositive, it would have been written this way:
  • 23
  • Police questioned the next suspect.
  • 24
  • Martha Kolln and Robert Funk wrote a famous book on English grammar.
  • 25
  • In it, they note that if an appositive renames the subject of a sentence, it can introduce the same sentence.
  • 26
  • Kolln and Funk say the following description, by Michael D. Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman, is a good example of an introductory series of appositives.
  • 27
  • It is about epithets, or insulting terms, that people used to describe the Vikings of northern Europe.
  • 28
  • "Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - such epithets pretty well summed up the Vikings for those who lived in the British Isles during medieval times."
  • 29
  • The nouns ravagers, despoilers, pagans and heathens are all epithets, the subject of the sentence.
  • 30
  • The writers could have left out the list of nouns.
  • 31
  • Instead, they could have begun the sentence simply with the words epithets such as, or such epithets.
  • 32
  • You might be asking yourself why this discussion is important.
  • 33
  • The reason is this: using appositives correctly is one of the best ways to improve your writing style.
  • 34
  • Appositives can help writers change the rhythm or order of a sentence.
  • 35
  • In other words, appositives help make sentences more interesting.
  • 36
  • Think back to our first example:
  • 37
  • My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
  • 38
  • If you were to write the example as two separate sentences, it might be something like this:
  • 39
  • My best friend studies English literature. My friend's name is Ahmed.
  • 40
  • These sentences are grammatically correct.
  • 41
  • But they are repetitive.
  • 42
  • In other words, they are less interesting to read.
  • 43
  • The next time you are reading, try to find examples of appositives.
  • 44
  • Ask yourself why the writer might have chosen to use them.
  • 45
  • When you practice writing in English - perhaps for a test or business purposes - try to use appositives in certain places.
  • 46
  • They will help make your writing smooth and clear - if you use them correctly!
  • 47
  • We will leave you with a famous example.
  • 48
  • In his book "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples," Winston Churchill wrote the following words about Britain's Queen Victoria.
  • 49
  • High devotion to her royal task, domestic virtues, evident sincerity of nature, a piercing and sometime disconcerting truthfulness - all these qualities of the Queen's had long impressed themselves upon the mind of her subjects.
  • 50
  • Can you identify the appositive? Can you identify the subject of the sentence? Write to us in the Comments Section of our website.
  • 51
  • I'm Anne Ball.
  • 52
  • And I'm John Russell.
  • 1
  • Imagine you want to improve your writing skills. Perhaps you would like to take an English test or use English in a business email.
  • 2
  • Today on Everyday Grammar, we will talk about something that could help you: appositives.
  • 3
  • We will explain the grammar rules behind appositives and demonstrate how to use them in sentences.
  • 4
  • Let us begin with a few definitions.
  • 5
  • Appositive definition
  • 6
  • An appositive is a word or group of words that renames something else.
  • 7
  • An appositive is often a noun or noun phrase that helps explain or identify another noun or a pronoun.
  • 8
  • Take this sentence, for example:
  • 9
  • My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
  • 10
  • The subject of the sentence is my best friend. The name Ahmed is an appositive. It adds information to the sentence.
  • 11
  • What is important is that the sentence is grammatically correct without the appositive.
  • 12
  • So, our example without the appositive would read:
  • 13
  • My best friend studies English literature.
  • 14
  • Another example
  • 15
  • Now, let us consider a more complex example.
  • 16
  • Imagine you are reading a crime novel. Perhaps the book has the following lines.
  • 17
  • Police questioned the next suspect, the victim's ex-wife.
  • 18
  • In this example, the victim's ex-wife is the appositive. The words give readers more information about the next suspect.
  • 19
  • If the sentence did not have an appositive, it would have been written this way:
  • 20
  • Police questioned the next suspect.
  • 21
  • Appositives can introduce a sentence
  • 22
  • Martha Kolln and Robert Funk wrote a famous book on English grammar. In it, they note that if an appositive renames the subject of a sentence, it can introduce the same sentence.
  • 23
  • Kolln and Funk say the following description, by Michael D. Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman, is a good example of an introductory series of appositives. It is about epithets, or insulting terms, that people used to describe the Vikings of northern Europe.
  • 24
  • "Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - such epithets pretty well summed up the Vikings for those who lived in the British Isles during medieval times."
  • 25
  • The nouns ravagers, despoilers, pagans and heathens are all epithets, the subject of the sentence.
  • 26
  • The writers could have left out the list of nouns. Instead, they could have begun the sentence simply with the words epithets such as, or such epithets.
  • 27
  • Why are appositives important?
  • 28
  • You might be asking yourself why this discussion is important.
  • 29
  • The reason is this: using appositives correctly is one of the best ways to improve your writing style. Appositives can help writers change the rhythm or order of a sentence. In other words, appositives help make sentences more interesting.
  • 30
  • Think back to our first example:
  • 31
  • My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
  • 32
  • If you were to write the example as two separate sentences, it might be something like this:
  • 33
  • My best friend studies English literature. My friend's name is Ahmed.
  • 34
  • These sentences are grammatically correct. But they are repetitive. In other words, they are less interesting to read.
  • 35
  • What can you do?
  • 36
  • The next time you are reading, try to find examples of appositives. Ask yourself why the writer might have chosen to use them.
  • 37
  • When you practice writing in English - perhaps for a test or business purposes - try to use appositives in certain places. They will help make your writing smooth and clear - if you use them correctly!
  • 38
  • We will leave you with a famous example. In his book "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples," Winston Churchill wrote the following words about Britain's Queen Victoria.
  • 39
  • High devotion to her royal task, domestic virtues, evident sincerity of nature, a piercing and sometime disconcerting truthfulness - all these qualities of the Queen's had long impressed themselves upon the mind of her subjects.
  • 40
  • Can you identify the appositive? Can you identify the subject of the sentence? Write to us in the Comments Section of our website.
  • 41
  • I'm Anne Ball.
  • 42
  • And I'm John Russell.
  • 43
  • John Russell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
  • 44
  • We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.
  • 45
  • ______________________________________________________________
  • 46
  • Words in This Story
  • 47
  • grammar - n. the study of words and their uses and relations in sentences
  • 48
  • ex- prefix meaning former
  • 49
  • introduce - v. to lead to or present
  • 50
  • sum up - phrasal verb to describe or show the most important parts or qualities of (someone or something) in a brief or simple way
  • 51
  • medieval - adj. of or relating to Europe's Middle Ages
  • 52
  • practice - v. to work at repeatedly so as to become skilled
  • 53
  • devotion - n. a feeling of strong love or loyalty
  • 54
  • virtue - n. morally good behavior
  • 55
  • sincerity - n. having or showing true feelings that are expressed in an honest way
  • 56
  • disconcerting - adj. unnerving or troubling; concerning