Pearson Adult Learning Centre HomePearson Adult Learning Centre: Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde


editpaperIs that a Restrictive or Nonrestrictive Appositive?

Appositives are used to give more information about a noun (by using another noun or noun phrase). But, sometimes, we use commas to set off the new noun or noun phrase in “apposition” and at others we do not. How to tell the difference?

When the noun or noun phrase is essential to a sentence’s meaning, no commas are used: “Have you read the novel The Crossing?” Knowing the title of the novel is essential, isn’t it? In this case, we call the the phrase “restrictive.”

Sometimes, however, the noun or noun phrase is not essential to a sentence’s meaning: “Cormac McCarthy, the novelist, is fond of eating pizza.” In this case the phrase is “nonrestrictive” and, although it helps those who may not know his profession, it is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Practice writing both kinds and, soon, your writing will improve.

(December 5, 2010)

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