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Apposition is an explanatory re-wording of a part of a sentence, placed after the expression it clarifies. It shows the same thing using different words. An apposition describes the previous clause of a sentence, but in its own clause. In speech, an apposition is normally preceded and followed by a pause. In writing, commas are normally used to distinguish between the apposition and the rest of the text.

An apposition plays the same role in a sentence as its preceding clause. If the previous clause has the accusative ending N, the apposition should also have this ending:

  • Karlo, nia prezidanto, prezentis Petron, la novan sekretarion. - Karlo, our new president, presented Petro, our new secretary.

    Both Karlo and nia prezidanto are subjects, they are in fact the same person. Both Petro and la nova sekretario are objects since they are the same person.

  • Tie mi renkontis Vilĉjon, mian edzon. - There I met Bill, my husband.
  • La diablo lin prenu, la sentaŭgulon! - May the Devil take him, the shiftless fellow!
  • La koko, trumpetisto de l' mateno, per sia laŭta, forta, hela voĉo el dormo vekas dion de la tago. - The rooster, trumpeter of the morning, with his loud, strong, high sound, wakes the god of day from his sleep.
  • Li prelegis pri Hitlero, la fondinto de la naziismo. - He gave a speech about Hitler, the founder of nazism.

    One could say: ...pri Hitlero, pri la fondinto...

  • Ni esprimas nian koran dankon al sinjoro Schleyer, la unua kaj plej energia pioniro de la ideo de neŭtrala lingvo internacia. - We express our heartfelt thanks to Mister Schleyer, the first and most energetic pioneer of the idea of a neutral international language.

    One could say: sinjoro Schleyer, al la unua kaj plej energia pioniro...

Sometimes an apposition is introduced by nome (namely), tio estas (that is), or a similar expression:

  • Mi renkontis mian malamikon, nome la mortiginton de mia patro. - I met my enemy, namely my father's killer.
  • Hodiaŭ mi ricevis duoblan pagon, tio estas cent dolarojn. - Today I got double pay, that is a hundred dollars.

    An abbreviation of: That is: I got a hundred dollars.

Don't confuse appositions with predicate nominatives. Predicate nominatives can look similar to appositions, but they never have an N-ending or another grammatical marker. Compare the following sentences:

  • Iuj asertis, ke ili vidis eĉ profesoron, Paŭlon Jenkins. - Some asserted that they even saw professor Paul Jenkins.

    The surprise is that they saw a professor at all. Then we find out that it was no other than Paul Jenkins whom they saw. Paŭlon Jenkins is in apposition.

  • Iuj asertis, ke ili vidis eĉ profesoron Paŭlo Jenkins. - Some asserted that they saw even professor Paul Jenkins.

    The surprise was seeing Paul Jenkins (who is professor). }Paŭlo Jenkins is the predicate nominative of profesoron. Profesoron Paŭlo Jenkins = tiun profesoron, kiu nomiĝas Paŭlo Jenkins (that professor whose name is Paul Jenkins).

Also don't confuse an apposition with the vocative which doesn't have a role indicator: Sidigu vin, sinjoro! Vin and sinjoro are the same person, but vin is the object, and sinjoro is the vocative.

Appositional ĉiu(j), ambaŭ or ĉio

Ĉiu(j) (every, all), ambaŭ (both) and ĉio (everything) can be used in apposition to a noun or pronoun to add additional explanation. If the noun or pronoun has an N-ending, the apposition should also have that ending (except for ambaŭ, which can never have an N-ending). These appositions aren't always found immediately after the first part of a sentence; they frequently appear somewhat later in the sentence:

  • Ni ĉiuj legas. = Ni legas. Ĉiuj (el ni) legas. - We all read. = We read. All (of us) read.
  • Ili ĉiuj sidas silente kaj skribas. = Ili sidas. Ĉiuj (el ili) sidas. - They are all sitting silently and writing. = They are sitting. All (of them) are sitting.
  • Ŝi vidis, kiel la cikonioj forflugis, ĉiu aparte. = La cikonioj forflugis. Ĉiu unuopa cikonio forflugis aparte. - She saw how the storks flew away, each separately. = The storks flew away. Each individual stork flew away separately.
  • La kolonoj havis ĉiu la alton de dek ok ulnoj. Ĉiu unuopa kolono estis tiel alta. - The pillars each had a height of eighteen cubits. Each individual pillar was that high.
  • Vin ĉiujn mi kore salutas. = Mi salutas vin. Mi salutas ĉiujn (el vi). - I cordially greet you all. = I greet you. I greet all (of you).
  • Ili ambaŭ estis bonaj homoj. = Ili estis bonaj homoj. Ambaŭ (el ili) estis bonaj homoj. - They both were good people. = They were good people. Both (of them) were good people.
  • Tio estas ĉio tre bona. = Tio estas tre bona. Ĉio (el tio) estas tre bona. - That is all very good. = That is very good. Everything (from among that) is very good.

Word combination

A special form of apposition is the combination of words. In these combinations, several (usually two) words of the same type work together to express something particular. The individual words almost become one compound words. They are pronounced without a pause, and they are usually written together, but with hyphens to divide them. However, they are not true compound words; grammatically, they are normally treated as separate words:

  • Pluraj ŝtatoj-membroj informis pri sia preteco ampleksigi la instruadon de Esperanto. = ...ŝtatoj, kiuj estas membroj [de UNESKO]... - Several member-states informed about their readiness to increase the teaching of Esperanto.= ...states which are members [of UNESCO]...

    Both ŝtatoj, and membroj have a J-ending because they are two separate words.

  • La Franca flago estas blua-blanka-ruĝa. - The French flag is blue-white-red.

    One could also say blua, blanka kaj ruĝa, but the compound form shows that we are talking about a definite color combination presented as a single unit.

  • La fotoj ne estis koloraj, sed nigraj-blankaj. - The photos were not in color, but in black and white.

    One could also say nigraj kaj blankaj, but nigraj-blankaj emphasizes to a greater extent the contrast to koloraj. It's a certain type of photo.

  • Kio estos, tio estos, mi provos trafe-maltrafe. = ...mi provos, ĉu trafe, ĉu maltrafe, laŭ ŝanco. - What will be, will be. I will try hit or miss.
  • Vole-ne-vole li devis konsenti. = Ĉu vole, ĉu ne-vole, li devis konsenti. - Willingly or unwillingly he had to consent.= Whether willingly, or not willingly, he had to consent.
  • Pli-malpli unu horon poste Marta eniris en sian ĉambreton en la mansardo. = Proksimume unu horon poste... - More or less one hour later Martha went into her little room in the attic. = Approximately one hour later...

    Sometime one could just as well say pli aŭ malpli, but this does not really mean proksimume.

Apposition showing comments

Sometimes appositional phrases are used to add new information about a thing rather than repeating the same subject matter. Normally they are used to indicate the place where the thing is found, or where it comes from. These comment-type appositions never have an N-ending. They can be regarded as shortened subclauses:

  • Prelegis interalie profesoro Kiselman, Svedujo. = ...Kiselman, kiu venas el Svedujo. - Speeches were given by, among others, professor Kiselman, Sweden. = ...Kiselman who comes from Sweden.

    We can also say: ...Kiselman el Svedujo.

  • Ni vizitis Tokion, Japanujo. = ...Tokion, kiu troviĝas en Japanujo. - We visited Tokyo,Japan.= ...Tokyo, which is located in Japan.

    Or: ...Tokion en Japanujo.

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