Imagine you want to improve your writing skills. Perhaps you would like to take an English test or use English in a business email.
Today on Everyday Grammar, we will talk about something that could help you: appositives.
We will explain the grammar rules behind appositives and demonstrate how to use them in sentences.
Let us begin with a few definitions.
An appositive is a word or group of words that renames something else.
An appositive is often a noun or noun phrase that helps explain or identify another noun or a pronoun.
Take this sentence, for example:
My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
The subject of the sentence is my best friend. The name Ahmed is an appositive. It adds information to the sentence.
What is important is that the sentence is grammatically correct without the appositive.
So, our example without the appositive would read:
My best friend studies English literature.
Now, let us consider a more complex example.
Imagine you are reading a crime novel. Perhaps the book has the following lines.
Police questioned the next suspect, the victim’s ex-wife.
In this example, the victim’s ex-wife is the appositive. The words give readers more information about the next suspect.
If the sentence did not have an appositive, it would have been written this way:
Police questioned the next suspect.
Appositives can introduce a sentence
Martha Kolln and Robert Funk wrote a famous book on English grammar. In it, they note that if an appositive renames the subject of a sentence, it can introduce the same sentence.
Kolln and Funk say the following description, by Michael D. Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman, is a good example of an introductory series of appositives. It is about epithets, or insulting terms, that people used to describe the Vikings of northern Europe.
“Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens – such epithets pretty well summed up the Vikings for those who lived in the British Isles during medieval times.”
The nouns ravagers, despoilers, pagans and heathens are all epithets, the subject of the sentence.
The writers could have left out the list of nouns. Instead, they could have begun the sentence simply with the words epithets such as, or such epithets.
Why are appositives important?
You might be asking yourself why this discussion is important.
The reason is this: using appositives correctly is one of the best ways to improve your writing style. Appositives can help writers change the rhythm or order of a sentence. In other words, appositives help make sentences more interesting.
Think back to our first example:
My best friend, Ahmed, studies English literature.
If you were to write the example as two separate sentences, it might be something like this:
My best friend studies English literature. My friend’s name is Ahmed.
These sentences are grammatically correct. But they are repetitive. In other words, they are less interesting to read.
What can you do?
The next time you are reading, try to find examples of appositives. Ask yourself why the writer might have chosen to use them.
When you practice writing in English – perhaps for a test or business purposes – try to use appositives in certain places. They will help make your writing smooth and clear – if you use them correctly!
We will leave you with a famous example. In his book “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples,” Winston Churchill wrote the following words about Britain’s Queen Victoria.
High devotion to her royal task, domestic virtues, evident sincerity of nature, a piercing and sometime disconcerting truthfulness – all these qualities of the Queen’s had long impressed themselves upon the mind of her subjects.
Can you identify the appositive? Can you identify the subject of the sentence? Write to us in the Comments Section of our website.
I’m Anne Ball.
And I’m John Russell.
John Russell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.
A look at the best news photos from around the world.
1A woman poses for a picture in front of an image with Arabic reading "those are our women" during ongoing protests near Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq.
2Men carry the remains of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, who were killed by drug cartel gunmen, before they are buried at the cemetery in La Mora, Sonora state, Mexico.
3Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, places a cross during the 91st Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London.
4A demonstrator takes a selfie as another one uses a sling during a protest against the government's economic policies in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 6, 2019.
5Beauty designers take part in a yearly national contest in Minsk, Belarus.
6A man covers his head with a plastic bag as it snows in Srinagar, India-controlled Kashmir.
7A visitor looks at lanterns during the Seoul Lantern Festival, along Cheonggye stream in Seoul, South Korea.
8A model presents a creation from Valentino Haute Couture collection by designer Pierpaolo Piccioli during a fashion show at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing, China.
6 Minute English
Why do people like sad music?
EPISODE 191107 / 01 NOV 2019
A recent study has shown that sad music has become increasingly popular, but why do people choose to listen to it, and what goes on in the brain and the body when they do so? Sam and Neil talk about music and biology and teach you some vocabulary.
This week's question
The music video has been around for a while, but in what year was MTV, the first dedicated music video channel, launched in the US?
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
can’t stand have a strong dislike of
hormone a natural chemical produced in the body
lactation the process in mammals of producing milk
comforting calming and soothing, making you feel better emotionally
what’s going on what’s happening
an excess of too much or a more than normal amount of something
Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript
Sam Hello. This is 6 Minute English, I'm Sam.
Neil And I'm Neil.
Sam Do you like sad music, Neil?
Neil Well, when I was younger and if I had a break-up with a girlfriend I would listen to sad songs, songs which reflected my mood.
Sam And do you still listen to those songs now?
Neil Not so much, but I do still like them.
Sam Well, it seems as if there might be a biological reason why some of us do like sad songs. We’ll look at this topic a little more after this week’s quiz question, which is about music videos. The music video has been around for a while, but in what year was MTV, the first dedicated music video channel, launched in the US? Was it…
A: 1981, B: 1982, or C: 1983?
Sam What do you think, Neil?
Neil I’m going to guess. Is it the early 1980s?
Sam Well, yes. Care to be more specific?
Neil Well… Well, it was a long time ago – I was just a small boy. I'm going to go for 1982.
Sam OK, I’ll have answer later in the programme. But first, more about sad songs. Professor David Huron from Ohio State University has conducted research in this area and he discussed it recently on a BBC World Service radio programme - The Why Factor. He was looking at why some people like sad music and other people really don’t like it all, as he says they just can’t stand it. He believes it’s to do with a hormone. A hormone is a natural chemical in our bodies which can have an effect on various systems and also emotions. Listen out for the name of the hormone he mentions.
Professor Huron One of the things that we were interested in was ‘what’s the difference between people who listen to sad music and who love it, and people who listen to sad music and who just can’t stand it'. In our research, it started pointing towards a hormone called prolactin. Now, prolactin, as you might have guessed from the name, is associated with ‘lactation’ from breast-feeding. When people cry, they also release prolactin. And, there are circumstances in which prolactin seems to have this comforting effect.
Sam So which hormone did he mention?
Neil He talked about the hormone called prolactin which he said was connected to lactation. This is the production of milk by mammals to feed their young.
Sam What he noted was that this hormone can be released when people cry and in some cases this hormone has a comforting effect. When something is comforting, it makes you feel better, it calms your emotions. Let’s listen again.
Professor Huron One of the things that we were interested in was ‘what’s the difference between people who listen to sad music and who love it, and people who listen to sad music and who just can’t stand it. In our research, it started pointing towards a hormone called prolactin. Now, prolactin, as you might have guessed from the name, is associated with ‘lactation’ from breast-feeding. When people cry, they also release prolactin. And, there are circumstances in which prolactin seems to have this comforting effect.
Sam So, what conclusions did he make about this hormone and how it might be working? Professor Huron explains.
Professor Huron So the thought was that, perhaps what’s going on is that the people who are enjoying listening to sad music are receiving some sort of excess of prolactin, and people who are listening to sad music and they just find it incredibly sad and unhelpful and they just don’t want to listen to it, maybe they’re not getting enough prolactin when they listen to the music.
Sam So what is happening? Or as Professor Huron said, what’sgoing on?
Neil Well, it seems quite simple, though I’m sure it’s very complicated. People who like sad music are maybe getting too much prolactin or more than is normal – he describes this as an excess of prolactin. And maybe people who don’t like sad music aren’t getting enough.
Sam So, the idea is that prolactin is a hormone which we find comforting. If our bodies release it when we hear sad music, it gives us a good feeling – but if prolactin isn’t released or there isn’t enough of it, we just find the sad music sad and it doesn’t help to cheer us up.
Neil I guess so, but you know emotions are funny things - it’s weird to think that our feelings are caused by different natural chemicals that run around the body. Absolutely! OK, we’re going to take another look at today’s vocabulary but first, the answer to this week’s quiz. The music video has been around for a while, but in what year was MTV, the first dedicated music video channel, launched in the US? Was it…
A: 1981, B: 1982, or C: 1983?
And Neil, you said…
Neil I said it was definitely the early 80s.
Sam Well, you’re not wrong there, but which year exactly?
Sam Ah well, you’ll need to dig out a sad song to make you feel better now because the answer was 1981.
Neil Oh dear, I can feel my prolactin levels dropping already!
Sam I’m sure you can’t! But let’s move on to vocabulary. If you can’t stand something, it means you really don’t like it.
Neil A hormone is one of the body’s natural chemicals.
Sam And the hormone prolactin is connected with lactation, which is the production of milk by mammals.
Neil Something that is comforting makes you feel better emotionally.
Sam The phrase what’s going on has a very similar meaning to 'what’s happening'.
Neil And an excess of something is 'too much or a more than normal amount of that thing'.
Sam Well, before you have an excess of our company, we should wrap up. Thanks for listening and we hope you’ll join us again soon. As ever, don’t forget that you can find more from the BBC Learning English team online, across social media and on our very own app! Bye for now!
China and the United States have agreed to remove additional duties on each other step by step as they make progress in reaching a comprehensive trade deal, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
Over the past two weeks, the two negotiating teams had serious and constructive discussions and agreed to remove the additional duties imposed on each other’s products in different phases after they make progress in reaching a deal, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a weekly briefing.
If China and the US reach a phase-one deal, both sides should simultaneously undo existing additional tariffs in the same proportion, which is an important condition for signing a preliminary agreement, Gao said.
“As for how much of the tariffs should be removed, the two countries can negotiate based on the content of the phase-one deal,” he said.
The trade conflict began because of additional tariffs, so a truce should be reached through tariff elimination, he added.
After the yearlong trade dispute, the world’s two largest economies have essentially completed their technical consultations regarding part of the text for the phase-one deal outlined in early October.
It had been reported that the two sides might sign the deal during the now-canceled Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which had originally been scheduled for later this month in Chile.
Asked about the possible location and timing for signing the deal, Gao said he had no further information.
A US anti-tariff advocacy group said on Wednesday that US consumers and businesses paid an additional $38 billion in tariffs from February 2018 to September 2019 due to the trade conflict.
In September, US consumers paid $7.1 billion in tariffs, up 59 percent year-on-year, according to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a group supported by more than 150 business and agricultural trade associations.
The advocacy group found that US consumers paid an additional $905 million in the first 30 days since part of additional tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports took effect on Sept 1.
“This data offers concrete proof that tariffs are taxes paid by US businesses, farmers and consumers — not by China,” said Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for Americans for Free Trade — a coalition of US businesses, trade organizations and workers against tariffs. “This is why removing tariffs must be a part of the phase-one deal,” Gold said.
Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said it is urgent for China and the US to reach consensus on a mutually beneficial deal. He said he is optimistic that the two countries will solve their economic and trade issues peacefully.
In another development, the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs are studying lifting the restrictions on US poultry product exports to China, Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.
The Mall Group yesterday (November 7) collected price tender documents from the Airports of Thailand (AOT) for the bid to operate duty-free concession at Don Mueang International Airport, said Wichai Bunyu, AOT senior executive vice president/Business Development and Marketing.
It is the second company picking up the documents after King Power Duty Free.
Today (November 8) is the last day AOT will sell the tender documents.
Bidders must submit the documents on December 11 and the winner will be announced on December 16.
Meanwhile, AOT will submit a draft of the terms of reference of the bid for operating pick-up counter service at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports to its revenue board on November 15.