Learn English Writing – Appositives

This English lesson helps student learn how to write better sentences by using appositives. 

The lesson has three parts.

  1. an explanation of appositives with practice exercises
  2. an appositive lesson in a pdf
  3. a reflective writing exercise with a video prompt that encourages the use of appositives

What’s an appositive?

An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that tells us more about another nearby noun. It looks like a relative clause but there are no words like ‘which, who or that’. Here is an example:

  • Sparky, my first cat, loved to catch mice. (The appositive is my first cat.)

Why use an appositive in your writing?

  1. It is an easy way to add details.
  2. It can change choppy sentences into nice sentences.



1. Important

Must stay in the sentence because it gives meaning. For example:

  • Have you read the novel War and Peace?
  • Have you read the novel? (x)

If we take out the appositive – War and Peace – we wouldn’t know which book the speaker was talking about.

2. Optional

Not necessary. These appositives are surrounded by commas. Here is an example:

  • My cousin, a teacher, is coming to South Korea.
  • My cousin is coming to South Korea. (ok)


Read these sentences. What is the appositive? Is it important or optional?

  1. Jack, my sister’s old dog, loves to chew on slippers.
  2. A city on the south coast, Busan is famous for green mountains, raw fish and pretty sunsets.
  3. Jack, my brother, is having a party next week.
  4. The singing group FT Island will be performing this summer in Busan.
  5. Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, is also called the Red Planet.
  6. The movie Interstellar was showing at the theater last night.


Rewrite these sentences by combining them with an appositive.

  1. My aunt lost her favorite ring. It was a gift from her sister.
  2. The Han River flows through Seoul. It is South Korea’s second longest river.
  3. The first man in space was from Russia. He was Yuri Gagarin.
  4. I sat beside Mr. Black. Mr. Black is a local prosecutor.
  5. Janet’s dog sat under a tree and panted. Her dog is a mutt.
  6. Dr. Jones loves to bake bread. He is a prize-winning baker.
  7. Mexico City is the biggest city in the world. Mexico City has many interesting places to visit.


Read the text. Rewrite the text with appositives.

  • Pepper spray is a weapon that can easily irritate the eyes and result in temporary blindness. Pepper spray is an organic material that comes from cayenne pepper. The spray normally comes in a can, which is often small enough to be carried in a pocket.


Suggested answers are on the pdf worksheet. Click here to get the full lesson plan as a pdf file (easy to print) as well as the answers.


This is a multi-skill activity is based on a short video prompt.

  1. Preview the comprehension questions before watching the video.
  2. Watch and listen to the video twice.
  3. Check comprehension answers.

Students write a two piece report:

  1. summarize main idea in a paragraph
  2. add appositive when describing the people, things and places
  3. add another paragraph that reflects on the topic and describes if the message is also true in their own lives

Key writing objectives:

  • describe the main idea with clarity,
  • write a descriptive summary with vivid details
  • practice writing appositives


Teach Essential Writing Skills

If you like this writing exercise, why not buy the ebook?

Teach Essential Writing Skills is jammed pack with useful and practical lesson ideas for the ESL writing class. Click the book image to learn more.

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