Writing Class Week 11

ESL Writing Lesson 1: Appositives

Appositives? Huh? Sounds hard, but it isn’t.

An appositive is a noun that describes another noun.

Appositives can be a single word or many words (a phrase). An appositive looks like a relative clause but there are no words like ‘which, who or that’ at the beginning of the clause.

Here are three examples; the appositives are in red.

The appositive can go at the front of the sentence. Like this:

  • A skilled but wild hockey player, Jack skated to the referee and punched him in the nose.

An appositive can go in the middle of the sentence, usually with lots of commas. Like this:

  • Jack, a skilled but wild hockey player, skated to the referee and punched him in the nose.

Or an appositive can go at the end of the sentence. Like this:

  • The fans cheered Jack, a skilled but wild hockey player who skated to the referee and punched him in the nose.

Practice 1

Paraphrase by combining the sentences 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.

Practice 2

Read the text. Paraphrase the text with appositives.
Pepper spray is a very effective weapon that can easily irritate the eyes and result in temporary blindness. Pepper spray is an organic based agent that comes from cayenne peppers. The spray will normally come in canister form, which is often small enough to be carried in a pocket.

Practice 3

Write a one to three paragraph opinion. The objectives are as follows:

  1. write an argument and support your idea with reasons, evidence and details
  2. support by your argument by paraphrasing ideas from two sources
  3. reference one argument against your claim and refute it

The topic: Everyone has a right to defend themselves.
Paraphrase parts of the PRO and CON information below and add it to your text.


Criminals are thugs with no regard for other people or their property. But, they will think twice before attacking people who are armed with weapons. When one’s life is in danger, criminals will start to think cautiously. By legalizing self-defense, the outcome is not more dangerous criminals, but instead fewer crimes. I call that deterrence. (Jennifer Jones)
Robbery, assault and murder are violent crimes that will not be stopped if ordinary citizens have the right to self-defense, which often is defined as the legal right to use force against force. In pro-gun jurisdictions, where it is legal to carry a gun in public, crimes do not disappear. Criminals simply obtain bigger and more dangerous weapons. (Jack Grange)


ESL Writing Lesson 2: Close and Faraway Words

Here is a technique to help students writer better. I found this in a book called The Classic Guide to Better Writing. The idea is that some words and phrases are so general they keep the reader faraway. Detailed words bring the read closer to the real image or situation.

Here are some examples.

  • The weather has been a little crazy during the last few days. (Blah. Simple. Faraway. Not specific)

Here is a revised sentence about the same idea.

  • Yesterday was a cold cloudy day with lots of rain in the morning. Today, the sky is blue and the temperature already at 25 degrees.

Another example.

  • When I came into the room, my daughter was reading a book. (Yawn.)

This sentence brings us closer to the situation.

  • When I came into the room, my daughter, Julia, was lying on the floor, flat on her stomach, reading Brave New World, Huxley’s famous novel sci-fi novel.

Practice 1

Read these sentences. Rewrite the sentences with words and phrases that create a strong, close up picture for the reader.

  1. The audience applauded when the actress walked down the red carpet.
  2. The firefighters worked as the crowd watched.
  3. The angry animal walked towards me.
  4. It was a beautiful spring morning when we got into our car and drove off to the pension.

Practice 2

Use these sentences as a writing prompt. Write a picture with words and phrases that bring the reader close to the action. Also use a few appositives, the things we practiced at the top of this lesson page!

  1. By the time I arrived, the store was in flames.
  2. Late at night, the beach was filled with a unusual sights and sounds.
  3. The entire city seemed to fill the downtown area.


Some answers for appositives.





See of Trees






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