I have forgotten the terms for many of the things I do instinctively in my writing or editing. So, defining grammar terms will be a good review for me as well.
An appositive is a noun or a noun phrase that identifies or renames another noun in a sentence.
Here is an example: The team chose two new members, Jake and Brad. (Jake and Brad are the same as “new members.”)
An appositive phrase can modify as well: Sorrel, a coppery red, is one the most common equine colors. (“coppery red” identifies sorrel. And “color” is also an appositive, describing sorrel.)
More examples: The Otis Elevator Company, the world’s oldest and biggest elevator manufacturer, claims that its products carry the equivalent of the world’s population every five days.
Appositives can be essential information or extra information. Only appositives that are extra information are set aside by commas. Example: The teacher, Mrs. Smith, handed out the tests. (Mrs. Smith is set aside by commas because we don’t need to know her name to get the gist of the sentence. “Teacher Smith handed out the tests” can also be considered an appositive, not needing commas.
So now we know what to call those descriptive phrases we put in our stories so often without a second thought.
What are some other terms for things we do instinctively without thinking about what they are called? How about metaphor, simile, dependent and independent clauses? Let's have some fun with defining those and others you can think of.
A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.