What Is an Appositive Phrase?
An appositive is a noun or pronoun that renames or identifies another noun or pronoun in some way. An appositive phrase consists of an appositive and its modifiers. Appositives can be either essential (restrictive) or nonessential (nonrestrictive).
An essential appositive provides information that is necessary for identifying the noun or pronoun that precedes it. Without the essential appositive, the sentence doesn’t make much sense. In contrast, a nonessential appositive provides additional information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence whose meaning is already clear. It gives the reader extra—but nonessential—information. Nonessential appositives should be set off with commas.
Essential Appositive Examples:
(William Shakespeare is the appositive. It identifies author.)
(Frank Lloyd Wright is the appositive. It identifies architect.)
(Gone with the Wind is the appositive. It identifies novel.)
(The New York Times is the appositive. It identifies newspaper.)
(Georgia O’Keeffe is the appositive. It identifies artist.)
(Yo-Yo Ma is the appositive. It identifies cellist.)
Nonessential Appositive Examples:
(A baseball player with the New York Yankees is the appositive phrase. It identifies Babe Ruth.)
(An island in Mexico is the appositive phrase. It identifies Cozumel.)
(A dance style is the appositive phrase. It identifies lindy hop.)
(A character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the appositive phrase. It identifies Sherlock Holmes.)
(A city in Brazil is the appositive phrase. It identifies Rio de Janeiro.)
Why Are Appositives and Appositive Phrases Important?
Whether they are essential or nonessential, appositives and appositive phrases make your writing more descriptive by providing key details about a person, place, or thing.