1

I'm wondering about this kind of sentence:

  1. The girl would regularly steamroll the boys, the diva of her class.

The typical rule for appositives is that because they are adjectival they should go right before or after the noun they modify. But I get the sense that they can vaguely and sort of adverbially modify the entire clause, explaining the circumstances of the clause. I feel like the above sentence is correct.

These examples may make it clearer where I get this sense:

  1. The girl would regularly steamroll the boys, diva that she was.

  2. The girl would regularly steamroll the boys, being the diva of her class.

My thought is, obviously the boys are not the diva of her class, so the original sentence should work even without the other stuff. Agree or disagree?

2

The second and the third sentences make it clear that the boys are not the diva[s] of the class, while the first one does not.

An appositive is a noun, noun phrase or a noun clause that renames another noun right beside it. The second and the third sentences use clauses(clauses that specify that the girl is the person being referred to as 'diva') while the first one uses an appositive phrase. According to the definition, an appositive must be placed right next to the noun(the girl) that it's describing.

So, the first sentence must be The girl, the diva of her class, would regularly steamroll the boys.

When you place the phrase 'the diva of her class' next to the noun 'boys', the immediate impression that's cast in the reader's mind is that the boys are being referred to as divas(consider a hypothetical situation where the reader understands the sentence the way it is without logically thinking about it). You may find the fact pretty obvious, but in grammar, specificity is everything. You need to make sure that your sentences are grammatically correct and make complete sense and that the intended meaning is delivered to the reader.

  • "The second and the third sentences make it clear that the boys are not the diva[s] of the class, while the first one does not." But see, you had to add that "s" to diva to make your point. I still think the original first sentence is not that unclear. It is quite illogical for the boys to be the singular diva. "An appositive is a noun, noun phrase or a noun clause that renames another noun right beside it." But not always. They don't always rename nouns. There are sentences like: "His father admitted that he did a good job, a small but significant triumph for little Johnny." – Sol Jun 14 '15 at 4:19
  • It's not that unclear, but you will agree that there is some bit of ambiguity in it. That's exactly why you asked the question, right? The articles that I'd referred to stated that an appositive is a noun, noun phrase or a noun clause that renames another noun right beside it. I might not be the best person to answer this, so I suggest you to consult others too. – Aishwarya A R Jun 14 '15 at 4:43

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