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David and Paige explain appositives, noun phrases that clarify or redefine another noun, and how to use commas to set them off in sentences. "My favorite snack, the cookie cat, is back in stock!" is a sentence that uses an appositive.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello grammarians, and hello Paige. - [Voiceover] Hi David. - [Voiceover] So today we're going to be talking about the appositive, which is just a monster of a word. I can tell you that from my limited study of Latin it comes from ad positio, which is "putting on", which doesn't really necessarily help. What is this thing? What is this device, how do we use it, and what does it have to do with commas? - [Voiceover] That is a great question. The definition itself is also kind of confusing, but it'll make a lot of sense when we see some examples. My older sister, Griselda, is going to college in the fall. - [Voiceover] Okay, so, an appositive, what is the definition of an appositive then? - [Voiceover] So it is a noun phrase that clarifies or redefines its antecedent. - [Voiceover] And an antecedent is just something that comes before, so what we're doing here with Griselda is, we are redefining or clarifying who my older sister is, so in order to do that, we're putting it between these commas like so, and we're just saying it again. My older sister, Griselda, is going to college in the fall. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] But it doesn't always have to be in the middle like this, right. - [Voiceover] That's true, it can be say, at the end. So, they stopped selling my favorite snack, the Cookie Cat. - [Voiceover] I am so sorry. - [Voiceover] I know. It's so sad. - [Voiceover] So we've got this apposition then at the end of the sentence, so my favorite snack is being redefined or clarified by Cookie Cat. Or rather, Cookie Cat is clarifying or redefining my favorite snack. - [Voiceover] Right. I could just say, "They stopped selling my favorite snack." - [Voiceover] That could just be its own sentence right. - [Voiceover] Totally. - [Voiceover] They stopped selling my favorite snack. My older sister is going to college in the fall. This stuff isn't essential to the understanding of the sentence. - [Voiceover] Right, but if you don't know what my favorite snack is, then it's helpful for me to say, the Cookie Cat. - [Voiceover] So you can use them as in the first sentence, my older sister comma Griselda comma is going to college in the fall, or you can use it as in the second sentence, they stopped selling my favorite snack comma the Cookie Cat period. - [Voiceover] Right. You don't need another comma. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] At the end. - [Voiceover] Let's change that back into a comma. - [Voiceover] So this is just another illustration of the separating power of the comma, cuz we're using it to set off this explanatory, clarifying element in the middle or at the end of these sentences. - [Voiceover] Yeah, exactly, that's what the comma does. Man, it seems like commas can do anything. - [Voiceover] Yeah, it's pretty incredible. You know what else can do anything? - [Voiceover] What? - [Voiceover] The viewer, you the viewer, you can learn anything. That's the appositive and how it relates to commas. David out. - [Voiceover] Paige out.