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apposition

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

Moderator: Alan

apposition

Postby navi » Thu Oct 07, 2004 11:22 pm

Is this sentence correct:
1-Ten years seperated the events of their deaths.

(Meaning: Ten years seperated their deaths. The "events" here being "the deaths".)
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Postby Alan » Fri Oct 08, 2004 4:07 am

Rather unnatural, and possibly prone to misunderstanding, as if there might be some events related to, or which accompanied, their deaths. BTW, 'sepArated' is the correct spelling!

Alan

P.S. There's no grammatical apposition here - why the title??
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Postby navi » Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:30 pm

I thought the structure in a noun phrase like "the event of his death" was a structure that could be called appositive, the "event" being "his death": event=his death.

I also thought the same was true of the structure of noun phrases like "that idiot of a friend", the idiot being the friend.

But I have to admit that I am extremely ignorant when it comes to technical grammatical terminology. So most probably I have made a mistake in thinking that way.

As for "separated", sorry. I'd like to say it was a typo, but to be honest, I can't be sure. Thanks for pointing it out.
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Postby Alan » Sun Oct 10, 2004 3:54 am

Just for information, 'apposition' means the juxtaposing of two phrases of the same type (normally two noun phrases) where the second constitutes an elaboration of the first, or provides further information about the referent. Thus, in

We know little about the life of the great English playwright, William Shakespeare.

noun phrases 'the great English playwright' and 'William Shakespeare' - both effectively standing as objects of the preposition 'of' - are in apposition.

In your sentence, however, 'the event' is a noun phrase, whereas 'of his death' is a prepositional phrase: syntactically different elements cannot be said to be in apposition.
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