Appositive Phrases Definition and Examples

What is appositive?

You may not have realized, but appositive and appositive phrases are very common in writing. Because they further explain the noun or pronoun or noun phrase, which makes understanding the writing easier for you. Let’s define and explain the concept of appositive and appositive phrases with examples.

What is an Appositive? An appositive is a noun or a pronoun—in many cases with modifiers —set beside another noun or pronoun to identify or rename it is known as an appositive.

appositive phrases definition and examples

Examples of Appositive


Your sister Shilpa is in great pain.

(In this sentence, both the sister and Shilpa are nouns, but the noun Shilpa renames or identifies the noun sister, standing before it. This is called an appositive. If we remove the appositive, the sentence is still complete and makes sense, but we only need to add further detail to a noun or pronoun.)


My closest friendAdeel, likes Indian rice very much.

(Noun = Friend; Appositive = Adeel)


David, your father-in-law, took us to the beach yesterday.

(Here ‘your father-in-law‘ is the appositive where ‘your‘ is the modifier and father-in-law is the that both combine and identifies or rename the noun, David)

Note that the appositive always comes second. If we replace them, the noun or a noun phrase that comes second will become the appositive. For example

Your father-in-law, David, took us to the beach yesterday.

(Here David becomes the appositive in this sentence)

Appositive Phrase Definition

What is an appositive phrase? An appositive phrase is a group of two or more words made of an appositive and its modifiers. It comes right after a noun or a noun phrase that renames or identifies it. However, when an appositive phrase introduces a sentence, it may appear before a noun. Noun phrases are commonly used as an appositive.

Learn: What is a Gerund Phrase- Definition and Function with Examples

Appositive Phrase Examples

The appositive phrases work the same way as a single-word appositive. The following are examples of appositive phrases. The appositive phrases are written in bold, and the noun they explain or identify are underlined.

  • My old friend, Sameer, is studying in New York now.
  • New Delhi, the capital city of India, is the most populous city in India.
  • David Smith, an intelligent student in our class, was died in the accident last summer.
  • My roommate, the slowest guy in our class, always gets a good position.
  • Vatican City, the smallest country in Europe, became independent from Italy in 1929.

Essential and Non-Essential Appositive Phrases

The information we add to a noun or pronoun may be essential or non-essential. It totally depends on the context. On this basis, the appositive phrases are divided into two classes called the essential and the non-essential appositive phrases.

 Essential Appositive Phrases

The essential (also called restrictive) appositive phrases are those phrases that, when removed from a sentence, do not make sense, i.e., which are necessary for sentence meaning, are called essential appositive phrases. for example, the sentence may refer to any English musician. “The famous English musician died in 2016.” The appositive will make this sentence clearer if we add to it. The famous English musician David Bowie died in 2016. This sentence now clearly states which musician do we mean.

A comma isn’t needed in an essential appositive phrase when it is closely related to the word; it modifies that it appears to be part of that word.

Consider the following two examples to clearly understand the concept of essential appositive phrases.

  • My friend lives far away from her village.
  • (This sentence means I have only one friend who lives far from her village.)
  • My friend Rebecca lives far away from her village.

(This sentence states that I have many friends, and only one of them, named Rebecca, lives far away from her village. The appositive phrase makes the sentence much clearer to understand.)

Further Examples of Essential Appositive Phrases

  • The largest university, Ohio State University, gets thousands of admission applications every year.
  • African political star Nelson Mandela died in 2013.
  • The precious stone Calcite was first discovered in 1969.
  • The famous author Alice Walker had a deficient vision

Non-Essential Appositive Phrases

Appositive phrases that are not essential to complete the sentence’s meaning are known as non-essential appositive phrases. These phrases can appear at the start, in the middle, or at the position in a sentence.

  • Honda Activa 6G, my bike is full of petrol.
  • My home city, New York, is famous for its tall building.
  • Isaac Newton, the first physicist to develop the concept of force, is recognized as one of the most outstanding scientists in the world.
  • Christopher Henry Gayle, a cricketer, made over twenty thousand runs in ODI Cricket.
  • My friend Ali, a younger boy, loves to explore every city in the United States.
  • My best teacher, Mrs. Hassan, is now retired.

All the appositive phrases in these sentences aren’t essential, i.e., If we remove them, these sentences still make sense and are clear.

Leave a Comment