AEM Academy

Appositives, Adjective Clusters, Adverb Clusters


Appositives are one of the simplest structures. Basically, they are synonyms. Appositives have no internal grammar – they are just a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause – and follow directly after the noun they are synonymous with.

  • My friend, John, has arrived.
  • My car, an old Toyota, is in the shop again.
  • For Sweden, emissions were around 8.5 metric tons in 1980 and decreased steadily until they reached roughly 4.5 metric tons in 2020, a reduction of 50%.
  • Last year, our company earned $1 million, an increase of 50% over 2020.
  • He deposited the paycheck, a pittance for all his hard work.
  • He drives an old car, a beat-up rust bucket.
  • He went for a drive, a quick spin around the block.

"Apple picking is a cherished rite of fall, a wholesome and fun family outing, a throwback to a simpler time when people weren't so disconnected from the production of their sustenance." (Daniel Gross. Against Apple Picking.)

  • Both appositives refer back to a cherished rite of fall.
  • The first appositive (a wholesome and fun family outing) is a noun phrase.
  • The second appositive is a noun phrase (a throwback to a simpler time) containing a subordinate clause (when people weren't so disconnected from the production of their sustenance).

Referring to the 2016 fires in Fort McMurray, British Columbia:

"The hardest thing to describe is the wind, a deep, gut punch of a blast powerful enough to form dust spirals along the highway, and nearly as hot on your face as when you open an oven." (Tim Querengesser, Metro Edmonton)

Appositives vs Relative Clauses

An appositive is often a good substitute for a relative clause when the relative clause is synonymous with the noun it’s related to:

My car is almost dead. It’s a 2008 Corolla.

  • Relative clause: My car, which is a 2008 Corolla, is almost dead.
  • Appositive: My car, a 2008 Corolla, is almost dead.

Adjective Clusters

Adjective clusters can be adjectives and adjective phrases that modify the preceding noun

  • He stared at his opponent, huge, aggressive, and ready to fight

Adjective clusters can be adjectives and adjective phrases that modify the preceding clause

  • She stormed into the teacher’s office, furious about her grades
  • The closet was crammed to the ceiling, full of bags and boxes
  • “[Asian students’ outstanding] results apply regardless of where Asians live, readily apparent in “the percentage of Asian Americans in the country’s most competitive magnet high schools and elite universities.”

Common adjective clusters include:

  • full of…, complete with…
  • angry about…, furious about…., sad about…, happy about…, delighted about…

Adverb Clusters

Adverb clusters give details about the preceding verb:

  • Late for work, he snuck in, quietly and carefully.