Appositives are another kind of modifier. They are noun phrases that follow and describe other nouns. Although they can appear after any noun, in this chapter we’ll look at how they often follow the simple subject of a clause. Here are some appositives that describe various U.S. presidents:

(a) Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president, walked a pet raccoon on a leash.

(b) Jimmy Carter, a former peanut farmer, was undone by the hostage crisis in Iran.

(c) Andrew Johnson, a skilled tailor, made most of his own clothes.

(d) Ronald Reagan, a former actor, took the role of president in 1980.

You can see how each appositive is a noun phrase that follows and describes another noun. You also can see that when appositives are used in this position—between the simple subject and the predicate of a clause—they are set off by commas.

Exercise 1.7

The following simple sentences, like the example sentences, contain bits of information about U.S. presidents, and each one has an appositive. For each sentence:

(a) Label the structurally important parts of each clause: the simple subjects (s), verbs (υ), complements (ob com or sub com and direct objects do).

(b) Draw a wavy line under the appositive in each sentence and set it off with beginning and ending commas.

(c) Write the kernel of each clause on the line provided. Remember that the kernel omits all the modifiers and contains only the structural essentials of the clause.

1. George Washington the first president of the United States loved peanut soup.

Kernel: …

2. John Quincy Adams the sixth president liked swimming in the nude in the Potomac River every morning at five o’clock.

Kernel: …

3. Zachary Taylor a career officer in the army for most of his life voted for the first time at the age of 62.

Kernel: …

4. James Buchanan president from 1857 to 1861 was a bachelor throughout his entire life.

Kernel: …

5. Abraham Lincoln an extremely persistent individual won the presidency in 1860 after eight election losses in a row.

Kernel: …

Note: Adjective and adverb phrases also can follow and modify the subject of a clause. Like appositives, these phrases are set off by commas when they appear between the subject and verb of a clause. For example, in this sentence an adjective phrase describes the subject:

The child, intelligent and strong, took after her parents.

Here, an adverb phrase is the modifier:

The woman, cautiously at first, planted the seeds under a thin layer of reddish dirt.