An appositive noun or phrase is restrictive (also called essential) if it narrows down the word it modifies. It tells which one of the noun you are writing about. A restrictive appositive noun or phrase is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. If you remove a restrictive appositive phrase, the sentence will sound like it is missing something. It is not separated from the rest of the sentence by commas.
My friend Amanda is on the honor roll again. (You have several friends. Amanda restricts which friend is on the honor roll. If we take out the phrase, we don't know who you are writing about.)
An appositive noun or phrase is nonrestrictive (also called nonessential) if we know exactly who the writer is referring to when the appositive is removed. Nonrestrictive appositives simply add extra information, and they need commas around them.
Amanda, my friend, is on the honor roll again. (We know Amanda is on the honor roll again, even if we don't know she's your friend.)
My best friend, Amanda, is on the honor roll again. (In this case, Amanda is nonrestrictive because you can only have one best friend. We don't need to know her name is Amanda in order to know who you are writing about.)
Practice What You've Learned
Identify the bold-faced appositive as restrictive or nonrestrictive. Commas have been left out on purpose.
My neighbor's house that has a tree growing through it was built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The Flying Scotsman a train from London to Edinburgh at one time had a hairdressing salon and a movie car. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The television series M*A*S*H* was one of the highest rated shows on television. restrictive/nonrestrictive
Renaissance painter and sculptor Leonardo da Vinci was also an inventor and drew plans for a flying machine. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The Labrador retriever a hunting dog bred in Newfoundland is one of the most popular pet breeds today. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The epic poem Beowulf is an exciting story that was written in Old English. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The red panda not a relative of the giant panda lives in the Himalayas. restrictive/nonrestrictive
The Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi was famous for playing Count Dracula. restrictive/nonrestrictive
Coach Peters a former professional baseball player loves coaching little children. restrictive/nonrestrictive
My bedroom is decorated with stuffed animals mostly bears and puppies. restrictive/nonrestrictive