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Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Appositives

Verbs have traditionally been defined by notional grammars as “words that denote an action or a state of being.” A verb phrase is a grammatical structure that consists of a verb functioning as the head of the phrase plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects.

In grammar, an appositive is a word, phrase, or clause that supports another word, phrase, or clause by describing or modifying the other word, phrase, or clause. Although nouns including pronouns and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, verb phrases in the form of present participles sometimes function as appositives in English. Examples of verbs and verb phrases as appositives include the following:

  • My favorite activity, reading books, is something that I need to do more often. (present participle)
  • I heard that we share a hobby, gardening. (present participle)
  • Her to-do list, washing the windows and emptying the gutters, may never get finished. (present participle)
  • Your chores, putting away the dishes and the clean clothes, must be finished by dinner. (present participle)
  • My idea of a good time, to sit and ponder life, is not enjoyed by everyone. (infinitive)
  • He is unhappy with his assigned tasks, to clean the shelves and organize the books. (infinitive)


Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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