ariestess: (TFO beauty -- from theonlyspl)
[personal profile] ariestess posting in [community profile] fandom_grammar
Today we're going to look at this anonymously asked question, "Do appositives always need punctuation?" with the help of our friends from Ghostbusters.

Per Writer's Relief, "[a]n appositive is a noun (or noun phrase) that provides information about another noun." Grammar-monster.com also notes that a noun clause can be used as an appositive. So now that we know what it is, let's see a few in action before we start discussing the need, or lack thereof, for punctuation with them, shall we?
"Allow me to introduce you to eminent quantum paraphysicist Dr. Rebecca Goran." [noun]

It takes a minute for Holtzmann to realize her faux pas. "Wait! Back that up. Allow me to introduce you to my favorite and longest-lived mentor, Dr. Rebecca Goran." [noun phrase]

Holtzmann and Dr. Goran may scoff at safety lights, the flashing beacons that let Erin feel safe, as "for dudes," but that doesn't mean they're wholly useless. [noun clause]


Now that we have an idea of what we're working with, let's get into the meat of the question by saying that punctuation -- usually in the form of commas, but also parentheses, brackets, or dashes -- will depend on how restrictive your noun is that's being described. The more restrictive you go, the more the punctuation comes into play.

Let's look back at our examples above for this information. In the first example, Holtzmann is describing her mentor via her field of study. Because the theory is that she is one among many in the field, there's no need for the comma to offset Dr. Goran's name. But in the second example, she makes specific claims about Dr. Goran, hence requiring the commas to offset the description. And in our third example above, the noun clause is offset with commas because it is additional information that can be removed from the sentence and not change the basic meaning. While it's important to Erin, it's not necessarily important to the rest of this statement.


In the end, it boils down to just how specific and restrictive your appositive is as to whether or not you need punctuation for it.




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