Appositives help us understand the text better. You may ask why? Appositives give more information about a particular noun.

What Are Appositives in English Grammar?

What Are Appositives?

'Appositives' are nouns, or noun phrases that are used to describe or rename another noun or pronouns.

Appositives: Types

Appositives can be:

  1. restrictive appositive nouns
  2. non-restrictive appositive nouns

Non-restrictive Appositives

'Non-restrictive appositives' are nouns or noun phrases that give more information about a particular component of the sentence. Keep in mind that non-restrictive appositives are put between two commas in the middle of the sentence and are preceded by a comma when they are used at the end of a sentence however, they are followed by a comma when they are used at the beginning of the sentence. Usually, noun phrases that have more modifiers are considered appositives. Check out the examples:

Mr. Green, my grumpy professor, corrected our papers.

In this example; my grumpy professor is the appositive noun phrase that its head (professor) is renaming Mr. Green.

His best friend, Maria, had a baby.

In this example his best friend is an appositive noun phrase. In this example the person has only one best friend so Maria is not used as an appositive noun.

I bought a bunch of flowers for John, My kind husband.

Newton, the scientist, was a smart person.


Remember, proper nouns cannot be appositives unless they are restrictive appositives.

Restrictive Appositives

When an appositive implies essential information about a noun, it cannot be omitted from the sentence and is not followed or preceded with a comma. Check out the examples:

My friend Sarah is a doctor.

They met the professor of the university Corina.


With restrictive appositive nouns, you are not allowed to use commas.

When To Use Restrictive Appositive Nouns

Sometimes there is a big group of options that if you do not describe the noun with a restrictive appositive noun, the conversation will be vague and you cannot understand the exact intent of the speaker.
This usually happens for proper names that are used to rename a general name. For example:

My brother John is too strict.

Here the listener will understand that the speaker has more than one brother.

His dog Oz is always barking at the midnight.

The person owns more than one dog.

Appositives: Uses

using an appositive in a sentence

Appositives have different uses, such as:

Making Emphasis

One use of appositives is to indicate emphasis. By repeating the initial noun or part of a sentence as an appositive, we can emphasize what we think is important. Check out the examples:

The sky, the clear blue sky, was full of shore birds.

Providing Synonyms

We can use the appositives to explain a word with an easier word or with another word that means the same. The examples below can help you understand it better:

The aerophobia, fear of flying, is one of the most common phobias of all time.

Non-restrictive Nouns and Noun Phrases Describing the Pronoun

Noun phrases can also describe pronouns here, but they are not necessary for a sentence. And they are preceded, followed, or set off with commas in the sentence. Here is the example.

You, my dear friend, are going to take care of my son while I am on vacation.

Non-restrictive Appositive Pronouns

These pronouns are used to identify a group that is considered really general. Pronouns are used as non-restrictive appositives when they are combined with other nouns, meanwhile, they are used at the second position, or in other words after the main noun. For example;

He gave the team, Hanna and me, a box of apples.

We, John and I, will stick to the oath.


Remember, the pronoun that you use agrees in case, with the positive noun. To choose the correct pronoun all you have to do is to delete the main subject or object of the sentence, then decide which pronoun is the best to be used. Here is the example.

They called us/we, the teachers, to send the results.

Here, the teachers is the appositive, so you have to delete and then decide whether 'called us' is correct or 'called we'

How to Use Appositives

'Appositives' are nouns or noun phrases that are used beside another noun and they give more information about the other noun. They can be used at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle of it, or even at the end of a sentence. Here are a few examples:

Kyle, the teacher, drove me crazy.

Last night, I got to see Jimmy, the showman.

Punctuation Rules

The non-restrictive appositives in the middle of the sentence must be put between two commas. Remember, using two dashes or round brackets before and after the appositives is correct as well. Look at the three same sentence structures below:

I think Matt Leblanc, the actor of Friends, was the funniest during the entire show.

I think Matt Leblanc—the actor of Friends—was the funniest during the entire show.

I think Matt Leblanc (the actor of Friends) was the funniest during the entire show.


An appositive does not have a verb or subject or predicate. As a result, it does not have a complete meaning however it completes the reader's information about a noun.


'Appositives' give further information about a noun or repeat it to make emphasis. There are two main appositives in English grammar, as follows:

  • non-restrictive appositives
  • restrictive appositives


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