Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!



Appositives

An appositive is a noun or pronoun that provides further insight to another noun or pronoun.  Appositives serve to define, explain, or clarify the nouns or pronouns that they follow.  Appositives provide a degree of detail that a reader would not know otherwise. 

Here are a few examples of sentences without appositives:

  1. My dog has been missing for days.
  2. Fragments of Egyptian papyrus have improved our understanding of Ancient Egyptian culture.
  3. I believe that Frederick Douglass should have his portrait on U.S. currency.
  4. My mom does not let my brother ride his bike without a helmet.
  5. The moment I saw her I fell in love. 

The following sentences will provide the same basic information as the ones above, but the included appositives will provide us with additional relevant information.  In these sentences, appositives will be bolded and the nouns/pronouns they modify will be italicized:

  1. My dog, an adorable cocker spaniel, has been missing for days. 
  2. Fragments of Egyptian papyrus, a paper-like material used for writing, have improved our understanding of Ancient Egyptian culture. 
  3. I believe that Frederick Douglass, the former slave and abolitionist leader, should have his portrait on U.S. currency.      
  4. My mom, a very protective woman, does not let my brother, a particularly reckless boy, ride his bike without a helmet. 
  5. The moment I saw her, a radiant woman standing at the bus stop, I fell in love. 

We can see in these examples how appositives provide our sentences with a greater degree of detail without changing the overall content or meaning of the original sentences. In all of the examples so far, appositives have followed the noun or pronoun they modify. This, however, does not always have to be the case.  Again, appositives will be bolded and the nouns/pronouns they modify will be italicized:

  1. A philosopher, statesmen, and inventor, Benjamin Franklin occupies a unique place in American History. 
  2. The tallest player in the league by several inches, Manute Bol led the NBA in blocks for four seasons. 
  3. A favorite of children since publication, The Phantom Tollbooth continues to inspire creative young minds today.

Appositives are very useful for providing additional details for readers, and for adding variety to your sentence structure. Notice that each appositive is generally set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma or commas, depending on its location.