An appositive renames or adds more information about a preceding noun or pronoun within a sentence. An appositive can be one noun or an entire noun phrase. Writers often use appositives to add more clarity or variety to their writing.
What is an Appositive?
Appositives can be Restrictive or Non-Restrictive
Some appositives offer essential information, and others offer extra information. When an appositive offers extra information, it is what's called non-restrictive, or a parenthetical. A parenthetical can be removed from a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. When the appositive offers essential information and cannot be removed from the sentence without confusing the reader, it's called a restrictive appositive.
Examples of Appositives
Take a look at the following sentence: “My cat, Pumpkin, likes to sleep in the chair.” In this example “Pumpkin” renames “My cat.” The proper noun renames the subject of the sentence. However, "Pumpkin" can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. It's parenthetical, and it's set apart from the rest of the sentence with commas. "Pumpkin" is the appositive.
Here is a second example: “Blue, my aunt’s cat, is much bigger than my cat.” In this second example, the phrase “’my aunt’s cat” renames the subject, the proper noun “Blue.”
The appositive should always follow the noun for which it offers additional information.
To diagram a non-restrictive (or parenthetical) appositive, simply rename the subject, using parenthesis. Fill in the predicate and any modifiers as included. Place any modifiers for the subject underneath the subject, and any modifiers for the appositive underneath the appositive. A restrictive appositive will be diagrammed the same, but without the parenthesis.
In the sentence, "Ms. Jenks, the teacher, smiled in class," "Ms. Jenks" is the subject. The appositive noun is "teacher." The verb in the sentence is "smiled," which is modified by the prepositional phrase, "in class." Because "the" is the article for "teacher," it is placed under "teacher." Note that the subject and the appositive noun share the base line.
The same pattern used in this sentence will apply to any sentence that contains appositives. A non-restrictive (or parenthetical) appositive is placed in parenthesis following the noun it renames. A restrictive appositive is not. Any modifiers for that appositive are diagrammed underneath the appositive.
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