Ideas to Teach Appositives

Ideas to Teach Appositives

This blog post delves into the world of appositives. As educators, we strive to provide our students with the building blocks of effective communication, and appositives are one way to do so.

In this post, I’ll review the definition of appositives, present two anchor charts highlighting the rules for using appositives, and offer an organizer flip chart to help students gain the knowledge they need to use appositives confidently. Additionally, I’ve located instructional videos to help your students understand. So, get ready to help your young writers!

Definition and Rules

What is an appositive? An appositive is a word or group of words that explain or define a noun. They follow the nouns they explain.

Appositives can be either restrictive or nonrestrictive. I teach students to first locate the appositive by finding the phrase that describes the noun. Next, I ask students to read the sentence skipping the appositive. If the sentence’s meaning is clear without the appositive, then it is nonrestrictive [CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.2.A]. Use commas to separate nonrestrictive elements from the rest of the sentence. 

Rules in a Nutshell

  1. Identify the Core Noun
  2. Are set apart from the Rest of the Sentences with Commas
  3. Used to Enhance, Not Repeat
  4. Add Variety to Sentences
  5. Often used to Expand Sentences 

Appositives Anchor Charts

Appositives Anchor Chart

This anchor chart goes over the rules for when commas should be used.

Here’s an explanation of the first example:

A bored student, Matthew Johnson, fell asleep in class. In this example, Matthew Johnson is extra information that tells the reader the student’s name, so a comma is needed.

Notice that the sentence makes perfect sense after removing the extra information.

A bored student fell asleep in class.

In this example, a comma is needed.

Sarah Pecorino created the emotional feelings clip art used on this anchor chart. It can be found here.

General Rules

As the anchor chart points out, appositives may be located in the middle or end of a sentence. Depending on the location of the appositive, use one or two commas to separate it from the rest of the sentence. 

One generalization is that one-word appositives do not need commas. Warn students that while this is often true, the sentence must be analyzed. The students must ask, “Is the information in the appositive essential?” To understand this better, look at the third example on the anchor chart.

Uses of Appositives

Appositives Anchor Chart

Kate Hadfield created the dog clip art used on this anchor chart. It can be found here.

The anchor chart explains three uses of appositives.

  1. Combine short choppy sentences. [CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.3.A, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3.A]
  2. Make sentences clear to the reader.
  3. The final example illustrates how adding an appositive can expand a short sentence to give it more interest. 
  4. By using appositives, students vary sentences. [CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.1.E]. 


Appositive Video
Play Video about Appositive Video

This short video works well as an introduction to appositives. The two examples seen here are explained.

Appositive Video
Play Video about Appositive Video

This YouTube video goes over the three examples seen here. 

Appositives Teaching Ideas

Included in the handout is a comprehensive organizer flip chart covering the rules for using appositives in a user-friendly format. This flipchart is a valuable resource for our students, offering step-by-step guidance on incorporating appositives. 

Click the button to download the organizer to use with your students.

The organizer contains the same information as the anchor charts. Using the two together makes a great mini-lesson.

With this tool, our writers will discover a new way to enhance their communication skills.

Gay Miller

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