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This sentence sounds quite incorrect:

The Bahamas, series of islands surrounding the USA, are beneficial to China's economy.

It seems that we need an article after the first comma; a quantifier or a demonstrative adjective seems to suffice as well.

The Bahamas, a series of islands surrounding the USA, are beneficial to China's economy.

The Bahamas, 700 islands surrounding the USA, are beneficial to China's economy.

The Bahamas, that series of islands surrounding the USA, are beneficial to China's economy.

But sometimes it seems that the form of my first incorrect example is permissible (as well as those three variants):

Batman, protector of Gothman City, is a good guy.

Likewise, in “America, home of the free, is the land of the brave,” we could insert “the” or “a” or “one” before “home.”

I'm confused. When is it okay to begin an substantive appositive with a noun?

  • But you could say: The Bahamas, islands surrounding the USA, are beneficial to China's economy. which requires no article, quantifier or adjective before "islands." Though the sentence might be better with proper brackets instead of commas, perhaps. – Margana Sep 12 '15 at 18:12
  • @Margana, do you mean that the real problem lies in the ambiguity of the number of series? – Simon Kuang Sep 12 '15 at 18:21
  • I think this is not a special property of appositives, but of certain nouns that can represent roles, like "president" or "king." you can use "protector" and "home" without articles after a form of "be" as well: "Batman will be protector of Gotham City" and "America is no longer home of the free." Though maybe these are not the best example sentences. – sumelic Sep 12 '15 at 18:33
  • Titles and positions don't need an article; other things usually do, so you'll need an article here. Not to mention a lot more islands. – deadrat Sep 12 '15 at 20:50

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