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Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
1.44 Appositives: Restrictive and Non-restrictive

An appositive is a noun or pronoun, in the form of a word, a phrase, or a clause, that further explains, renames, or identifies another noun or pronoun in that same sentence.

  • An appositive usually appears directly after the noun it explains, identifies, or renames.


    The Yorkshire Terrier, an adorable little dog, is always a favorite at the dog show.
    Lansing, the capital of Michigan, is home to Michigan State University.

    Note that the appositives in the sentences above are set off by commas.

  • Appositives can also come before the noun they are identifying:


    An adorable little dog, the Yorkshire Terrier is a favorite at the dog show.
    The capital of Michigan, Lansing is home to Michigan State University.

    Notice that when the appositive comes first in a sentence, it is followed by a comma.

  • An appositive may also come at the end of a sentence. A comma (or dash) is usually used before the appositive in this case.


    Growing by the river was the most beautiful plant I had ever seen--a Rhododendron in full bloom.

  • An appositive may be restrictive, which means that it is essential to the meaning of a sentence. A restrictive appositive is not set off by commas.


    My sister Sue will be having a party next week.

    (Sue is essential to the meaning of this sentence because it tells which sister is having a party.)

    The band Three Doors Down is performing at the Palace tonight.

    (the appositive in this sentence identifies which band is performing).

  • An appositive may be non-restrictive, which means that you could omit the appositive from the sentence without compromising the meaning of the sentence.


    Three Doors Down, the band, is performing at the Palace tonight.

    Sue, my sister, will be having a party next week.

  • An appositive may be negative, or identify what something or someone is not.


    Female students, rather than male students, are most likely to take cooking classes at school.

  • Commas or dashes may be used to set off an appositive. Dashes are useful when the appositive itself contains commas.

Directions: Rewrite the following sentences, making sure to correctly punctuate and identify the appositives in each one. Write what type of appositive the sentences contain (restrictive or non-restrictive). Write two example sentences for each of the rules listed above.

Q 1: His new car a beautiful red Lexus was badly dented in the accident.

Q 2: My brother Jim went white water rafting in Colorado last summer.

Q 3: Hovering around the lilac bush in my yard was the most beautiful and delicate bird I'd ever seen a ruby-throated hummingbird.

Q 4: A country well known for its ancient traditions Egypt is an interesting place to visit.

Q 5: A very large and hairy spider the tarantula mainly eats insects and other arthropods.

Q 6: Mars the fourth planet from the sun is also called the "Red Planet" because of its reddish appearance as seen from Earth.

Q 7: It was the division portion of the test rather than the multiplication portion that was most difficult for the students.

Q 8: The popular movie Ice Age is showing at the theater tonight.

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Question 10: This question is available to subscribers only!

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