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I am having some trouble discerning appositives from their nouns in apposition.

Consider an example from the Wikipedia article on appositives, "My friend Alice Smith likes jelly beans." "My friend" is the subject, while "Alice Smith" is a restrictive appositive.

Then consider "I visited Canada, a beautiful country." Here, "Canada" is an object, while "a beautiful country" is a non-restrictive appositive, according to the article. Why isn't "a beautiful country" the object and "Canada" a restrictive appositive, since it narrows the scope down from "a beautiful country" to a particular beautiful country?

The criteria can't be that the noun in apposition is always placed before the appositive in a sentence, as the article specifies that the appositive appears first in the sentence, "The first to arrive at the house, she unlocked the front door." This example also restricts us from saying that the appositive is always closer to the predicate.

So what is the correct criteria used to appropriately discern the appositive [phrase] from its noun [phrase] in apposition?

  • An appositive modifier always follows the noun that is being modified. In, for example, "the opera Carmen", "Carmen is the appositive modifier and "opera" is the head that is being modified. In "My friend Alice Smith likes jelly beans", the subject is "My friend Alice Smith". There, the appositive modifier is part of the NP subject. – BillJ Apr 15 '17 at 16:23
  • Appositives are usefully analyzed as reduced relative clauses (restrictive and non-restrictive) with predicate nouns, because they have many of the same characteristics. The subject relative and the auxiliary be from the predicate noun are deleted by Whiz-Deletion, leaving (in this case) an appositive NP. – John Lawler Apr 15 '17 at 17:27
  • I think the answers to this related question will help. Restrictive appositives don't just "narrow down the scope" in any old sense... they do in a specific way related to the syntax and construction of the sentence. – MDHunter Apr 15 '17 at 17:56
  • From Wikipedia - Deaths in 2017, April 12th : Kathleen Cassello, 58, American operatic soprano, which is 5 appositives in a row. – JonMark Perry Apr 15 '17 at 18:17
  • @JonMarkPerry Five appositive modifiers? I can't see any. – BillJ Apr 16 '17 at 11:47

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