What is an appositive?

An appositive is a noun or a noun phrase placed next to another word to define or modify it. For example, in the phrase "my friend Leila," the noun "Leila" is an appositive.

Restrictive versus non-restrictive

An appositive can either be restrictive, or non-restrictive.

1. Non-restrictive appositives are not crucial to the meaning of the sentence. For example, in "Alan, the chief executive of the project, has just called for a meeting ", "the chief executive of the project" doesn't narrow down the first element "Alan". It rather provides additional information about it. Non-restrictive appositives are put between commas.

2. In a restrictive appositive, the second element limits or clarifies a word in some crucial way. For example, in the phrase "my friend Leila writes good poems ", the name " Leila" tells us which friend the speaker is talking about and is thus restrictive. Restrictive appositives don't need to be set off with a pair of commas.

Examples of appositives

  • Mexico City, the biggest city in the world, has many interesting archaeological sites.
  • Denver, the capital of Colorado, is beautiful.
  • My friend bill is very rich.

You may also be interested in:

Parts of speech
Direct and indirect objects