Appositional Phrases: something we should all know

I love good grammar, or, maybe I should say, I love grammar rules. All those commas, semi-commas, and dashes are there to make the reading of dead words on a dead page sound alive when read. Atleast in my writing.

Many, probably most, of our rules in life come from the past and are no longer really doing any work – or, heavy lifting (as I hear more and more at the end of the decade).  At a dinner party, don't start eating until after the hostess comes from the time when making sure they weren't going to poison you was a bigger issue. Shaking hands showed you weren't carrying a knife.    

But English is alive and most of the rules reflect the living language. And, I like to think, I know most of the rules well enough to know when I can break them. When in doubt, I can always refer to my Strunk and White, my The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, or my Wired Style Book. But I don't think I have ever heard of the rules on appositional phrases, or – for that matter – even knew they existed.

Running into Michael Tomasky's blog entry on appositional phrases is the kind of thing I find fascinating about the Web. 

An appositive is a phrase that amplifies a noun and is set off by
commas. Charlie Weis, the outgoing Notre Dame coach, will
receive…Otis, Tomasky's 19-year-old cat, likes to eat…SFMikey, the
loyal reader and commenter who longs for a shout-out, wrote…In each
of these cases, the words in the between the commas are the appositive.
One rule of thumb: It's a phrase you can always remove from the
sentence, along with its commas, and the sentence will still track

Of course there is more to it than just this and it is worth a visit.

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