KISS Level 5.4 - Appositives
What IS an Appositive?
An appositive is a construction
that chunks to another construction simply by identity of meaning. No connecting
words (prepositions or conjunctions) make the connection. Most textbooks
deal only with very simple appositives — nouns that function as appositives
We were guided by our old acquaintance, the trapper.
But within KISS we can deal with much more. In
addition, students should learn to deal with elaborated appositives — appositives
that are themselves modified by prepositional phrases, clauses, gerundives,
etc. They can also explore how other constructions (finite verbs, prepositional
phrases, clauses, etc.) can function as appositives.
When should we introduce students to appositives?
This is an important
question. Some people believe that students can handle appositives very
early. My son was, if I remember correctly, in second grade when he was
asked to combine two sentences by using an appositive: "Mary is a marine
biologist. She studies fish." He asked for my help, but when I showed him
"Mary, a marine biologist, studies fish," he did not like the sentence.
He's not alone.
in "Early Blooming and Late Blooming Syntactic Structures," argues that
appositives are "late-blooming" and notes that in his study few of the
high school students that he studied used them. Part of the problem of
course, may be that none of these students were taught how to analyze sentences
in the first place.
Although an understanding
of clauses is much more important than appositives, simple appositives
can probably be added to students' analytical toolbox as early as fifth
grade — if you have the time, and if the students have a basic ability
to identify S/V/C patterns. Currently, the grade-level KISS curriculum
introduces them in fifth grade.
Suggested Directions for Analytical Exercises
1. Place parentheses around each prepositional phrase.
2. Underline every subject once, every verb twice, and label complements
(“PA,” “PN,” “IO,” “DO”).
3. Put brackets [ ] around every subordinate clause and use arrows
or labels to indicate their function.
4. Put a vertical line at the end of every main clause.
5. Write “App” over every appositive and draw an arrow from it to the
word to which it stands in apposition.
Probable Time Required:
For simple appositives, two exercises?
in KISS Level 5.4
2 a and b - Elaborated Appositives
3 - Writing -
Elaborating Appositives with
a Subordinate Clause
4 - A Focus on the Punctuation of Appositives
7 - A Passage for Analysis
9 - A Treasure Hunt for Appositives
| In a book that you are reading, find five
sentences that include an appositive and make an exercise (with an analysis
Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
| Most of these exercises are too short.
I intent to reorganize them
| The original sentences contain advanced appositives,
but I would not expect students to be able to rewrite all of them with
about Establishing Credibility of Source Materials
The first question that
needs to be addressed here is: in what grade are students even introduced
to the question of the credibility of source information? Who says what
is an extremely important question, even, in some cases, a question of
life or death. Many people are aware of at least a few cases of drugs being
recalled after reported serious side-effects, sometimes deaths, caused
by them. Most of those drugs were advertised. Can we believe advertising?
Although one's own death may be the most serious result of believing uncredible
source materials, unreliable sources affect many everyday decisions and
many political positions. Students should be taught much more than they
currently are about the ways to evaluate the credibility of sources.
But evaluating the source of information is essentially a reading skill.
Indicating the credibility
of source materials in one's own writing is a much more complex task.
It depends on a number of different skills, especially if we are concerned
with the type of writing that is required in college and in many professional
fields. Although the focus on KISS Grammar is on the grammatical constructions
that are used to communicate credibility, we should probably look at the
other mental process involved in order to see why many students have problems.
In college and professional
writing, the sources must be documented, usually by information placed
in parentheses at the end of the cited source materials:
a.) Malthus predicted that famine would
be the ultimate force that keeps population under control. (Heilbroner,
Consider some of the questions that a student writer must face in creating
either of these two versions.
b.) Robert Heilbroner notes that Maltus wrote,
"The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation . .
. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics,
pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array and sweep off their thousands
and tens of thousands. Should success still be incomplete, gigantic inevitable
famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow, levels the population
with the food of the world." (88)
First, should one paraphrase (as in "a"),
or should one quote (as in "b")? Several factors influence this decision,
two of which are the writer's purpose and audience. Unfortunately, many
college students have rarely been taught to consider either purpose or
audience in writing papers. Typically, their purpose is to do the assigned
paper, and their audience is the teacher. This will not do for most college
papers, and it certainly will not do for professional writing. Thus many
students find themselves grappling with two major writing questions with
which they are unfamiliar.
And, if they have grappled with the question
of purpose, they face another question -- how important is this information
for their purpose? Will the short paraphrase achieve it or do they need
the entire quotation? Students who have not considered the purpose of their
paper will tend toward the long quotation simply because it fills up space.
On the other hand, students who have determined their purpose may believe
that the quotation is needed, but that it takes up too much space in a
five-page paper. This is especially true because the better writers understand
that if they are going to include such a long quotation, then they should
probably spend about the same amount of space explaining its importance
and relevance to their purpose.
A second set of questions cluster around the
framing of the source material. Should the writer's source for the information
precede the information (as in "b"), or should the information simply be
given and then followed by the parenthetical in-text documentation (as
in "a")? In our examples, it really does not make much difference, but
in other cases it can be crucial:
(c.) Fossils support the theory of evolution. (Gould, 36)
Version (c) means that the writer agrees that fossils support the theory
of evolution. Version (d) is neutral -- the writer may totally disagree.
The problems that students have with keeping voice and sides clear are
so wide-spread that Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein have written an
excellent short textbook about it -- "They Say/I Say": The Moves That
Matter in Academic Writing. And their book does not even begin to deal
with what goes into the parenthetical citations.
(d.) According to Stephen Jay Gould, fossils support the theory of
What to put in the parenthetical citations
should give students still another (our third) set of questions. I say
"should" because many students prefer not to think about this, and even
some college professors teach them not to. Many students are taught to
simply include the author and the page number on which the information
can be found. But that does not always work correctly. Better instruction
is to teach students that the in-text citation should include the minimum
information needed to find the source in the Works Cited List (or Bibliography).
Thus if there is only one work by the writer of a source -- and that writer
is included in the frame of the source material ("Robert Heilbroner notes
. . . ") then only the page number is needed. But if there are two works
by that source writer, then the title of the work needs to be included
-- either in the frame ("In The Worldly Philosophers, Robert Heilbroner
notes . . .") or in the in-text citation (The Worldly Philosophers,
88). Other questions arise when there are two source writers with the same
name, or when the source is anonymous, but the point is that students do
need to do a new type of thinking in considering these technical questions.
A fourth set of questions is not so technical.
When should the writer include information on the credibility of the source?
And if such information is included, what should it be? Does one need to
indicate who Malthus was? Heilbroner? Gould? Essentially, this depends
on one's intended audience. Economists will all know who Malthus and Heilbroner
are; the general public will not. Gould would be recognized by many readers
familiar with science and evolution, but not by all. And if, for example,
one cites Goethe, does one establish his credibility by calling him a nineteenth-century
German poet, dramatist, scientist, philosopher, and/or the author of Faust
and/or the author of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship? These are
advanced questions that again depend on one's audience and purpose.
Most college students work them out as they do advanced work in their chosen
fields, but we need to realize that they bewilder students who are just
learning how to put information about credibility in their papers. What
information are they expected to include?
My purpose in exploring the preceding four
sets of questions was simply to suggest the mass of new ideas, new skills,
that students are expected to master when we ask them to use sources in
their own writing and to explain the credibility of those sources. Our
primary focus, of course, is a fifth set of questions -- the grammatical
constructions that can be used. Three are most common.
A main clause:
Daniel Goleman is the
author of Emotional Intelligence and a senior editor of Psychology
Today. He claims that emotional intelligence is more important
than IQ. IQ stands for "intelligence quotient."
A subordinate clause:
Daniel Goleman, who
is the author of Emotional Intelligence and a senior editor of Psychology
Today, claims that emotional intelligence is more important
than IQ. IQ stands for "intelligence quotient."
Daniel Goleman, the author
of Emotional Intelligence and a senior editor of Psychology Today,
claims that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ. IQ stands
for "intelligence quotient."
The three main options bring us to the debated
question of natural syntactic development. As noted above, Kellogg Hunt
suggested that in his research few high school students used appositives.
The research of Hunt and his colleagues also suggests that cognitive mastery
of subordinate clauses probably develops for most students, around seventh
grade. Cognitive mastery is what would be needed for students to look at
the main clause version and correctly change it to the version using a
subordinate clause (or to naturally write the subordinate clause version
in the first place).
The point here is that in addition to the
preceding four sets of questions, many students don't have the required
syntactic maturity. Some college Freshmen have problems
using appositives. Every semester at least one student, sometimes several,
mangle these sentences:
the author of
Emotional Intelligence and a senior editor of Psychology
he claims that emotional intelligence is more important
than IQ. IQ stands for "intelligence quotient.”
A few of these students simply cannot handle the appositives or subordinate
clauses. Instead, they hand in something that looks very immature and awkward
Daniel Goleman claims that emotional
intelligence is more important than IQ. IQ stands for "intelligence quotient.”
is the author of Emotional Intelligence and a senior editor
of Psychology Today.
This version is awkward for two interrelated reasons.
Standing as a separate sentence and coming after the source material, the
credibility statement sounds tacked on. The main clause option is also
the least mature of the three in that it makes the credibility a main idea
(MIMC) equally important to the cited material. The subordinate clause
version, of course, subordinates the credibility as a modifier to the cited
source, as does the appositive, and the appositive has the added advantage
of eliminating the meaningless "who is."
Much more research needs to be done on syntactic
maturity, especially in combination with what grammar is taught and how.
My guess is that exercise eight is too advanced for fifth and sixth graders.
Teachers and parents will need to determine for themselves when their students
are ready to develop these skills. But the KISS Approach to teaching appositives
should give students cognitive mastery of the construction, such that when
they hit the mass of new concepts needed for documenting research, they
will be able to use appositives without having to master the construction
at the same time.