An appositive is a noun or pronoun that renames another noun or pronoun. Appositives are placed directly after the noun or pronoun they identify.

  • She, my sister, is always late. (The appositive ‘my sister’ renames ‘she’.)
  • Smarty, my cat, understands my moods. (The appositive ‘my cat’ renames ‘Smarty’.

Appositive Phrases

Appositive phrases are nouns or pronouns with modifiers. They provide additional information and description to the sentence. As with solitary appositives, appositive phrases are placed near the noun or pronoun they describe. For example:

  • Columbia University, the second-largest landowner in New York City, is part of the Ivy League.
  • Stalin, the dictator of Russia, had talks with Roosevelt, the President of the United States.
  • Paradise Lost, the great epic poem in English, was written by Milton.

As with appositives, appositive phrases come in two varieties: essential and nonessential. Don’t set off essential appositives with commas, but be sure to set off nonessential appositives with commas.


  • The famous British mystery writer Agatha Christie disappeared in 1924 and was missing for 10 days. (Essential appositive)
  • Agatha Christie, the famous British mystery writer, disappeared in 1924 and was missing for 10 days. (Nonessential appositive)

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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