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Appositive vs Adjectival Clause

On the Appositive page, there are examples of how to offset appositives with commas, parentheses, or dashes. But the examples used seem to be adjectival clauses because they start with relative pronoun WHO:

For example, the "hot tips" examples are these:
If the appositive is just additional information (i.e., you could remove it from the sentence without any loss of meaning), then offset it from the remainder of the sentence using commas. (You could also use parentheses (i.e., brackets) or dashes instead of commas.)

Jane Smith, who swam 100m in under a minute, wins the award for most improved swimmer.
Jane Smith (who swam 100m in under a minute) wins the award for most improved swimmer.
Jane Smith — who swam 100m in under a minute — wins the award for most improved swimmer.
When an appositive is just additional information (as in the examples above), it is classified as non-restrictive.

Are the examples wrong? Or how do you tell the difference between an appositive and an adjectival clause if the appositive appears to have a relative pronoun? On the appositive page, none of the other examples on the page start with relative pronouns.

Thanks...

Re: Appositive vs Adjectival Clause

Jane Smith, who swam 100m in under a minute, wins the award for most improved swimmer.
Jane Smith (who swam 100m in under a minute) wins the award for most improved swimmer.
Jane Smith — who swam 100m in under a minute — wins the award for most improved swimmer.

It’s tricky, but I’ll endeavour to explain.

The who clauses in those examples are not appositives, and they can't be adjectival because they are non-restrictive clauses, the kind that don’t modify anything, but simply provide additional non-essential information about some element in the main clause. Here, they refer to (but do not modify) "Jane Smith", the subject of the sentence.

Some older grammars do use the term "appositive" for what everyone else calls a "non-restrictive relative clause", such as those swim examples. But that’s not widely accepted nowadays, so I would strongly advise you to forget about older grammar. Appositives are noun phrases, not clauses.

An appositive is a noun phrase which usually (but see * below) functions as a modifier. The whole idea is that when it is substituted for the larger noun phrase in a sentence, it yields a sentence which is an entailment of the original:

(1) a.She sang in the opera Carmen.
(2) b She sang in Carmen.

(3) a My wife Lucy is here.
(4) b Lucy is here.

In each of those pairs, (a) entails (b). The appositive thus entails a formulation that can stand instead of the noun phrase containing it.

*I said “usually” because it is possible to have non-restrictive appositives, though they are still noun phrases, not clauses:

(5) The first contestant, Lulu, was ushered on stage.
(6) Bizet’s most popular opera, Carmen, was first produced in 1875".

In (5) and (6), the underlined appositive nouns are supplements, non-restrictive appositives. They are not modifiers; they provide non-essential information that is not required to identify the head nouns. Just like the appositives in (1) and (3), the appositive noun can be substituted for the whole supplementation yielding an entailment of the original. Thus, (5) entails that "Lulu was ushered on stage", and (6) entails that "Carmen was first produced in 1875".

A fairly useful test for supplementary (non-restrictive) apposition is to see if the head noun and the possible appositive noun can occur in a specifying be clause; consider these:

(7) The first contestant was Lulu,
(8) Bizet's most popular opera is Carmen.
(9) *Jane Smith is who swam 100m in under a minute.

(7) and (8) are fine - they pass the test, but (9) fails since it is not a possible declarative clause.


I’m sorry if that all seems a bit complex – please feel free to post another question if something is still not clear.




PaulM