Positively Understanding Appositives

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13600

Appositives are a way to add extra description and meaning to your sentences. Learn what they are and how to use them in this lesson!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

George Washington, the first president of the United States, lived at Mt. Vernon.

  • Can you identify the part of this sentence that explains what George Washington is known for?

Read on to find out!

An appositive phrase is a noun, noun phrase, or series of nouns that appears immediately before or after a different noun for the purpose of renaming or describing that noun in a different way.

  • So, which part of the sentence above tells what George Washington is known for?

George Washington

Consider the whole sentence once more:

George Washington, the first president of the United States, lived at Mt. Vernon.

If the appositive is removed, the sentence becomes:

George Washington lived at Mt. Vernon.

  • Can you label the grammatical function of each word or phrase in that sentence?

The function of the appositive in this example is to identify what George Washington is known for. The first president of the United States is a noun phrase that renames the subject, George Washington, in a different way.

  • Did you catch the appositive in that sentence, too?

Appositives are sometimes interchangeable, meaning that it doesn't matter which noun phrase is the subject and which is the appositive.

  • How else could the sentence be phrased without changing the meaning?

The noun phrases in this sentence are logically interchangeable.

George Washington became the appositive because it became the modifier. The first president of the United States became the noun phrase being renamed.

It works because both noun phrases are ways of naming the same person.

Now that you understand the basics of appositives, head over to the Got It? section to learn about restrictive and nonrestrictive appositives.

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