Funny story. I didn’t learn what an appositive was until I had to teach it, year after year, to classrooms full of 7th and 8th graders.

I just used an appositive in the above sentence. Can you spot it?

The answer: year after year (set off by commas)

I like grammar, so I thought I’d give a mini lesson on appositives, because why not?

An appositive is a noun, pronoun, or noun with modifiers directly next to another noun or pronoun, which gives more information.

It’s easiest to understand by seeing.

Let’s take the above sentence first:

I didn’t learn what an appositive was until I had to teach it, year after year, to classrooms full of 7th and 8th graders.

The noun the phrase ‘year after year’ is modifying is ‘it’ (referring to an appositive).

Here are some other examples. The noun is bold-faced; the appositive is italicized.

  • My sister Julie won the spelling bee!
  • The teacher, a friendly woman in her fifties, loves to teach math.
  • My dogs, Bean, Dobby, and Pippin, light up my life.

The appositive can also come before the noun:

  • A plant-lover, Shannon has a green thumb.
  • A fascinating place to visit, the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum is on the Outer Banks.

And there you have it—appositives! In case you were wondering…

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