Is the following grammatical? If so, what would you call the phrase after the comma? It sounds somewhat like an appositive but there's no (explicit) noun to which it refers.

Bill might assume his car is parked outside, a false assumption if somebody towed it away.

  • This is the use of a fragment arising from an obvious deletion in the expansion (in the 'further thoughts' sense) statement: << Bill might assume his car is parked outside; [this would be] a false assumption if somebody {had} towed it/the car away. >> Though the comma is unacceptable with the expanded (in the undeleted sense) form, with the deleted form, it is the semicolon that doesn't work with the deleted form ... but colon, dash, and ellipsis all work, and the comma is also not a bad choice. //Apposition occurs only when identical POSs (NPs, arguably verbs) exist side by side. Commented Apr 15 at 11:11

1 Answer 1


Welcome to EL&U Ishaan. The sentence is grammatical but is an example of the omission of implied words. The full version of the second clause would be

"...that would be a false assumption if somebody towed it away".

This is not apposition, as you say, because there is no noun which the second clause renames. There is a way to use apposition here though you could say

"Bill might make the assumption that his car is outside, a false one if somebody towed it away."

Here the second part of the sentence renames 'the assumption' which is a noun.

We have replaced the verb 'assumes' with the phrase 'make the assumption' so 'make' is now the verb and 'assumption' is the noun which is the object of that verb.

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