Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

11.8: Appositives, Adjective Clauses, Verbals

  • Page ID
    44474
  • Appositives

    An appositive is a word or group of words that describes or renames a noun or pronoun. Incorporating appositives into your writing is a useful way of combining sentences that are too short and choppy. Take a look at the following example:

    • The lineman sacked the quarter back. The lineman was burly at 6 foot 5 and 275 pounds.
    • The lineman, a burly man at 6 foot 5 and 275 pounds, sacked the quarterback.

    To combine two sentences using an appositive, drop the subject and verb from the sentence that renames the noun and turn it into a phrase. Note that in the previous example, the appositive is positioned immediately after the noun it describes. An appositive must come directly before or after the noun to which it refers.

    Appositive after Noun:

    Scott, a poorly trained athlete, was not expected to win the race.

    Appositive before Noun:

    A poorly trained athlete, Scott was not expected to win the race.

    Unlike adjective clauses and participial phrases, which may be restrictive or nonrestrictive, appositives are always nonrestrictive, and thus they are always set off by commas. A comma is placed both before and after the appositive. This video explains about appositives a little more.

    Appositives -- 2 Minute Teacher. Provided by: Cody Walker. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Exercise 1

    Rewrite the following sentence pairs as one sentence using any of the techniques you have learned in this section:

    • Baby sharks are called pups. Pups can be born in one of three ways
    • The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south.
    • Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics. He is a champion swimmer.
    • Ashley introduced her colleague Dan to her husband, Jim. She speculated that the two of them would have a lot in common.
    • Cacao is harvested by hand. It is then sold to chocolate-processing companies at the Coffee, Sugar, and Cocoa Exchange.

    Adjective Clauses (also known as Relative Clauses)

    Here is a brief review of adjective clauses and relative pronouns.

    An adjective clause is used to describe a noun:

    The car, which was red, belonged to Young-Hee.

    A relative pronoun is usually used to introduce an adjective clause:

    Young-Hee, who is a Korean student, lives in Victoria.

    For more information about relative clauses (adjective clauses) please see Section 11.12.

    The main relative pronouns are:

    Pronoun Use Example
    Who used for humans in the subject position Hans, who is an architect, lives in Berlin.
    Whom used for humans in the object position Marike, whom Hans knows well, is an interior decorator.
    Which used for things and animals in the subject or object position Marike has a dog which follows her everywhere.
    That used for humans, animals and things, in the subject or object position (but see below) Marike is decorating a house that Hans designed.
    Whose used for humans, animals and things in the subject or object position to show possession Marike, whose dog follows her everywhere, is an animal lover.

    There are two main kinds of adjective clause:

    1. Non-defining clauses

    Non-defining clauses give extra information about the noun, but they are not essential:

    The desk in the corner, which is covered in books, is mine.

    Explanation: We don't need this information in order to understand the sentence. “The desk in the corner is mine” is a good sentence on its own — we still know which desk is referred to. Note that non-defining clauses are usually separated by commas, and “that” is not usually used in this kind of context.

    2. Defining clauses

    Defining clauses give essential information about the noun:

    The package that arrived this morning is on the desk.

    Explanation: We need this information in order to understand the sentence. Without the relative clause, we don't know which package is being referred to. Note that “that” is often used in defining relative clauses, and they are not separated by commas.

    When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises here.

    Verbals/ Gerunds

    Here is a brief review of gerunds and how to form them.

    Gerunds are nouns formed from verbs.

    walking, talking, thinking, listening

    Gerunds are formed by adding ING to verbs.

    think + ing = thinking

    Spelling Rules

    There are a few spelling rules that you need to know in order to form gerunds correctly. The spelling of a gerund depends on the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and consonants (b, c, d, f, etc.) at the end of the verb.

    Rule Example
    If there is more than one consonant, just add ING think + ing = thinking
    If there is more than one vowel, just add ING beat + ing = beating
    If there is one vowel and one consonant, and the syllable is stressed, double the consonant and add ING hit + t + ing = hitting
    If there are one or more consonants and E, remove the E and add ING take + ing = taking
    In most other cases, just add ING study + ing = studying
    see + ing = seeing

    When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises here.

    Contributors and Attributions

    This page most recently updated on June 8, 2020.