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?

An appositive is a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause that renames or explains another noun or noun phrase in the sentence. The appositive provides additional information to describe or clarify the noun or noun phrase it follows.

Appositives: Types

Appositives can be:

  1. Restrictive
  2. Non-restrictive

Non-restrictive Appositives

Non-restrictive appositives are nouns or noun phrases that provide additional, non-essential information about a particular component of the sentence. They can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
When used in the middle of a sentence, non-restrictive appositives are enclosed by commas. When used at the end of a sentence, they are preceded by a comma. If they are used at the beginning of a sentence, they are followed by a comma.
Noun phrases that have more modifiers, such as adjectives or other modifying phrases, are often used as appositives to provide more detail or explanation about a particular component of the sentence. Check out the examples:

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

In this example; 'my grumpy professor' is the appositive noun phrase and 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.

I bought a bunch of flowers for John, my dear husband.

Newton, the scientist, was a smart person.


Remember, using two dashes or round brackets before and after the appositive in the middle position is also acceptable. Compare the sentences 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.

Non-restrictive Appositives Describing a Pronoun

Noun phrases can also be used to describe pronouns, but they are not necessary for the meaning of the sentence. When used, they are set off by commas to set them apart from the rest of the sentence. For example:

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

Pronouns as Non-restrictive Appositives

Pronouns can be used as non-restrictive appositives when combined with other nouns. In this case, the pronoun is placed after the noun, typically in the second position. Pay attention to the examples:

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

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


Remember, proper nouns cannot be non-restrictive appositives, but they can be restrictive appositives.

Restrictive Appositives

A restrictive appositive provides essential information about a noun. It cannot be removed from the sentence and is not followed or preceded by a comma. Check out the examples:

My friend Sarah is a doctor.

They met the professor of the university Corina.

When To Use Restrictive Appositive Nouns

In some cases, when there is a large group of options, it can be essential to use a restrictive appositive to clarify the specific noun being referred to. Without a restrictive appositive, the conversation can be vague and the intended meaning may not be clear.
This is particularly important when using proper names to rename a general name, as there may be multiple options or interpretations. 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 in the middle of the night.

This sentence implies that the person owns more than one dog.

Appositives: Uses

using an appositive in a sentence

Appositives can be used for different purposes, such as:


Appositives can show emphasis. By repeating the initial noun or a part of the 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 with the same meaning. Pay attention to the examples:

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


When using a pronoun, it is important to ensure that it agrees with the appositive noun in terms of case. To choose the correct pronoun, one can delete the main subject or object of the sentence and decide which pronoun is most appropriate to use. Here is an example:

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

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


'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


Loading recaptcha

You might also like

Noun Complements

Discover the secret to making your nouns come to life through the magic of noun complements. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.


The part of a sentence that contains the verb and gives information about the subject is called the predicate. In this lesson, we will discuss it.


Antecedents are nouns or noun phrases that refer to the pronoun. If you are eager to learn them or know more about them, read this.


Expletives or placeholders are words or phrases that are used to fill out a sentence without adding essential meaning to the sense of the whole sentence.

Parts of Speech

A part of speech is any grammatical group, such as noun, verb, and adjective, into which words are classified based on their use.

Honorifics and Titles

We may not know what we are using but in everyday English, we use many words that help us be more polite. In this article, we will take a look at these titles.
Download LanGeek app