You may not realize it, but you use appositive nouns every day to provide more detail in your sentence. They are two nouns that work together, where one identifies or further defines the other. Sounds almost abstract, right? Fear not, as soon as you review these examples of appositive nouns, it'll all make sense.
When you talk about an appositive, it generally implies the word "noun," so we can just refer to an appositive noun as an appositive. An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames the noun next to it.
For example, if you said, "The boy raced ahead to the finish line," adding an appositive could result in "The boy, an avid sprinter, raced ahead to the finish line."
The sentence is still complete without the appositive; however, adding the appositive presents more information about the other noun.
An appositive can come before or after the main noun and it can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, as long as it sits beside the noun it defines. As a noun phrase, an appositive does not have a subject or predicate, and is not a complete thought.
Don't overuse appositives in your writing. All it takes is one too many, and a paragraph can becomes long, cluttered, and confusing. Only use them when they can add to the character of the noun and provide more interest to your work.
The best way to become acquainted with any part of speech is to practice it constantly and use it appropriately. If you frequently review examples of appositive nouns, you'll be well on your way to total mastery. The appositives in the examples below are in bold.
Gus, Eric's black cat, slowly crept up behind the kittens.
The bookshelf, a large piece of furniture, was moved into the house first.
The spider, a big and hairy creature, scared the children as they played in the grass.
My brother, a human garbage disposal, consumed five cheeseburgers in one sitting last night.
Kara's designer bag, a display of her wealth, was stained with paint because she wasn't careful.
They couldn't believe when the little boy stood up to John, the biggest bully in school.
Mara's sundae, a gigantic mountain of ice cream, started to melt when she took it outside.
An enormous man with great strength, Henry was able to carry the entire pallet of bricks by himself.
Jasmine was the belle of the ball in her new dress, a turquoise ball gown.
Did you notice every appositive was surrounded by commas? Appositive nouns and noun phrases are nonrestrictive, which means they can be left out of a sentence and the sentence still makes sense. For this reason, they need punctuation to attach them to the sentence, it's important to indicate the non-essential function of an appositive.
So, while you're becoming an English language master, why don't you review 8 Times Commas Were Important to stay ahead of the class!