The KISS Grammar Workbooks Back to September Menu

Notes for
Advanced Appositives
(from Mr. Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner)

All are in Level 5.4
Ex # 1 [Elaborated] AK - L5.4 App
Ex # 2 [Elaborated] AK SC - "
Ex # 3 [Elaborated] AK SC - "
Ex # 4 [An Appositive before the referent] AK SC - L5.4 App Un
Ex # 5 [Elaborated] AK SC - L5.4 App
Ex # 6 [Elaborated] AK SC - "
Ex # 7 [Elaborated] AK SC - "
Ex # 8 [A Noun Appositive to a Finite Verb] AK SC - L5.4 App Un
Ex # 9 [Prepositional Phrases as Appositives] AK SC - L5.4 App PP
Ex # 10 [Appositives as Repetition of Finite Verb] AK SC - L5.4 App Un
Ex # 11 [Elaborated] AK SC - L5.4 App
Ex # 12 [Elaborated] AK SC - "

     Lest the title turn one's stomach, perhaps I should note that on the title page of the novella, "maggot" is defined as "A nonsensical or perverse fancy; a crotchet." I found this story about a missionary's loss of faith in The Woollcott Reader: Bypaths in the Realms of Gold, edited by Alexander Wollcott (New York, The Viking Press, 1935, pp. 329-462). I had thought that the text is now in the public domain, but apparently it is not. As I write this, it is available at It provides some excellent examples of appositives, but the short passages selected for exercises also include a wide range of other constructions which makes them excellent texts for review exercises for eleventh graders. 
     Each exercise includes at least one appositive. Not all the appositives are "advanced," but many of them are. (For the meaning of "advanced" here, see "More about Appositives.")
     In practice, these sentences should provide at least two or three weeks worth of work, perhaps more. Home schoolers might want to analyze one sentence a day; classroom teachers might split the twelve sentences into two groups of six, thereby creating the "grammar" assignments for two weeks (or more) of the semester. I would not collect and grade all of these; instead I would assign and review five of them in class, perhaps one sentence per class period. Then I would use the sixth sentence in the group as a quiz. [Note that I am assuming here that the students have been using the KISS Approach for several years, and are thus able to identify S/V/C patterns, clauses, and verbals with little if any trouble.]
     Another way to use them would be to select an exercise and have the students, for one day's work, do the sentence-combining version. If possible, have at least three or four students put their versions on the board (or on overhead transparencies) and discuss them, noting in particular how the various versions reflect differences in style. Then show the students Warner's original sentence and have students analyze it for a later class. Using an overhead of Warner's version, have the students, as a group, review this analysis assignment in class. Then, for still another assignment, have the students write a sentence by using the structure of Warner's sentence as a syntactic model.

     Exercise #1 is an example of appositives that consist of the same word ("idols") as that to which they stand in apposition ("idols"). It also has some interesting gerundives and noun absolutes.
     Exercise # 2 is short and sweet, with one simple appositive that is itself modified by a gerundive.
     Exercise # 3 is much longer and more complex. It may be difficult to understand outside the context of the novel. Within that context, however, the numerous appositives are very clear because they form a list of Mr. Fortune's previous failures. If students can make sense of these appositives without reading the novella, this selection makes an excellent review exercise for eleventh graders. In addition to the numerous appositives, there are a noun used as an adverb,  noun absolutes, passive voice, gerundives, post-positioned adjectives, an almost totally ellipsed clause, and a clause that functions as a delayed subject. It is also neat because it has appositives to appositives.
     Exercise # 4 begins with a relatively rare construction -- an appositive that precedes the word to which it stands in apposition. And that appositive is itself modified by three gerundive phrases, one of which includes two post-positioned adjectives.
     Exercise # 5 has a somewhat challenging appositive in the word "advance," which stands in apposition to "oncoming." Unlike most of the other exercises in this set, it consists of three clauses, and it also has a gerundive, an infinitive construction, and a post-positioned adjective.
     In Exercise # 6, the two appositives are rather simple, but the clause structure is very complicated.
     Exercise # 7 has four appositives, one of which is an appositive within an appositive phrase. Gerundives and post-positioned adjectives add to the complexity of this single-clause sentence.
     Exercise # 8 illustrates a mixed-construction appositive, with the noun "pleasure" standing in apposition to the verbal "pleased." A gerundive and the third-level embedding of a subordinate clause add to the interest of this sentence.
     Exercise # 9 illustrates prepositional phrases used as appositives. It also raises interesting questions about clause boundaries. 
     Exercise # 10 suggests how finite verbs might also be considered to be functioning as appositives.
     Exercise # 11 is  very complex. Among other things, it includes a noun fragment that can be explained as an appositive to a finite verb in the preceding paragraph. Several noun absolutes add to the complexity.
     Like exercise 11, Exercise # 12 raises interesting questions about clause boundaries -- is "surface," for example, an appositive to "rock" or to "slab"? The answer to that question affects the explanation of where clauses end.

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