Most textbooks state that subject relative pronouns cannot be omitted, e.g.

A: Alan threatened Brian.

B: Alan was a gangster.

A+B = Alan, who was a gangster, threatened Brian.

However, sometimes I will see the following:

A+B = Alan, a gangster, threatened Brian.

Is this standard usage? If so, is it still a relative clause or something else entirely?

Many thanks in advance.

  • In the second example, a ganster is an appositive.
    – choster
    Sep 4, 2015 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


It's called an appositive, a noun or noun phrase immediately following another noun that renames or identifies that other noun.

  • Sorry, I know I shouldn't use a comment to say thank you, but this is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much!
    – ITI
    Sep 4, 2015 at 6:45

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