ESL Appositive Exercises

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning about the appositive can help ESL students develop their vocabularies as well as understand grammar on a more sophisticated level. These activities will help your students become appositive experts!

What Is the Appositive?

If you are an ESL teacher, you know how important it is to make sure your students are familiar with grammar and syntax. Teaching them about the appositive will now only develop your students' grammatical awareness, it might also even help them grow their vocabularies. An appositive is a noun that immediately follows another noun in a sentence, usually in the form of a subordinate clause, and renames or specifies the noun that precedes it. For instance, look at the following sentence:

The tree, a birch, is covered in snow.

In that sentence, 'birch' is the appositive. It refers directly to the tree but offers more detail in terms of specifically what tree the sentence is describing. Understanding the function of the word 'birch' will help ESL students make sense of such a sentence, and it might even help them learn what the word 'birch' means if that was previously unfamiliar. The exercises in this lesson will get your ESL students stronger in their understanding of the appositive.

Appositive Exercises

Find Examples of the Appositive

Once you have explained to your students what the appositive is, it will be important for them to develop an organic understanding of how it works in natural language. The best way for this to happen is for students to find examples of the appositive in texts they are reading. Have students work in partnerships to look through the books and other print materials in your classroom or in the school library. They should make lists keeping track of any examples of appositives they find. At the end of the class period, bring students together and give them a chance to share what they found, noting features that the appositive always has and discussing what they learned from doing this kind of work.

Write Your Own

In this activity, students will add appositives into sentences to make them more detailed and descriptive. Give your students a list of at least ten sentences that do not contain appositives. Some examples of sentences include:

  • The book was hard to read.
  • Those children are playing really nicely together.
  • After lunch, let's go to the store.
  • The movie had them laughing so hard they almost choked.
  • He did not love his dinner.
  • That car sure can drive fast!
  • What do you think about going to the new restaurant?
  • Everyone struggled with their homework.
  • The doctor gave me some strong advice.
  • Their new computer has a lot of memory.

Have students work in groups to add appositives into the sentences. For instance, new sentences might read:

  • The book, a Russian novel, was hard to read.
  • Those children, cousins, are playing really nicely together.
  • After lunch, let's go to the store, an antique shop.

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