My sentence is as follows:

I lodged a complaint with Acme Corporation, a private entity.

Does it need to be changed into:

I lodged a complaint with Acme Corporation, which was a private entity.

I appreciate the meaning between the two sentences is slightly different. I would just like to know if the first sentence is grammatically correct. It looks correct to me but I have been told that only the second version is grammatically correct. Is there a 'rule' governing this situation that I can reference?

  • 5
    If you read "I lodged a complaint with Acme Corporation, a private entity" (or read it somewhere) you would immediately understand "a private entity" to be an appositive (a clause or phrase that illuminates a noun that immediately precedes it), even if you didn't understand the term appositive or phrase or even noun. Whoever told you that sentence is ungrammatical doesn't know much about how English really works.
    – Robusto
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


Yes, #1 is grammatical. "a private entity" is in apposition to "Acme Corporation".

But in light of "was" in #2, you might have wanted to say "...Acme Corporation, a private entity at the time".

  • 1
    Yeah, probly appositives are just the result of whiz-deletion on a non-restrictive relative clause. One can always reconstruct the which/who is/was as needed. Since it's entirely predictable, putting it in anyway often calls attention to an additional circumstance (like, possibly, the circumstance that, at the time of speaking, Acme Corp was not a private entity). Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:24

"which was" a does not provide any additional information. lodged is past tense and was does not add any value

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