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1) Good vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, sense of style--all are basic writing skills. 2) Basic writing skills--good vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, sense of style-- can be learned by almost everyone. In (2) the series of appositives are "good vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, sense of style". So by definition "The appositive is a noun or noun phrase that modifies another noun" so it means appositive comes after the subject right? But my doubt is can we use appostives before a subject like in (1) and in (1) which is the subject(i.e noun) that modifies the noun phrases "Good vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, sense of style" ?

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    The linear position of NP and its appositive is not a criterion for apposition, cf. "Ed's wife Lucy (subject NP) is throwing a party on Saturday" ~ "We thoroughly enjoyed the opera Carmen (object NP), though the appositive NP always follows the NP it modifies or is anchored to. Crucially, an appositive NP must be a specifying one, not an ascriptive one. In your last example, "good vocabulary", "knowledge of grammar", "sense of style" are not the modifying kind, but supplementary appositives anchored to the NP "basic writing skills". – BillJ Sep 2 '17 at 14:53
  • In "the great eccentric, Henri Rousseau, died on this day in 1910", the appositive is not following the NP it modifies. Apposition doesn't really care which order the two elements are in. – Roaring Fish Sep 2 '17 at 14:54
  • Not true. In your example, the appositive is "Henri Rousseau", which is a supplementary appositive and hence is not modifying the NP "the great eccentric", but has it as its semantic anchor. Appositives always follow the NP they modify or are anchored to. – BillJ Sep 2 '17 at 16:53
  • @BillJ What do you think of the following sentence: Anytime I pass Mr. Spivey, my history teacher's, classroom he says, "Hi!" Isn't there something wrong with the apostrophe in the apposition? – Mv Log Sep 2 '17 at 18:16
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If there is a "rule" that an appositive must follow the noun modified, I have not heard of it. It is certainly not a general rule in English that modifiers must follow the word modified. We do not say "the child happy was laughing out loud."

  • "... I have not heard of it". You have now! – BillJ Sep 2 '17 at 18:05
  • @BillJ, in your example of "Ed's wife Lucy," I would say that "Ed's wife" more probably modifies "Lucy" by distinguishing a particular "Lucy" from the potentially many "Lucies" in the world rather than distinguishing among Ed's multiple wives. If that interpretation is correct, then your "rule" disappears. – Jeff Morrow Sep 3 '17 at 2:01
  • "Army captain" versus "Navy captain" seems to be a very clear example of the modifying noun preceding the modified noun. – Jeff Morrow Sep 3 '17 at 2:18

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