Both the SAT and ACT exams expect students to know whether or not appositives should be set off from the rest of the sentence with commas.
To make that decision, it’s important to know what appositives are: nouns or noun phrases that rename or provide additional information about the nouns right beside the appositive.
When the noun being described is a proper noun or name, usually the information that follows is set off with commas.
Other appositives don’t describe proper nouns, but they are still set off with commas.
An appositive that begins a sentence is followed by a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence.
Likewise, when an appositive ends a sentence, it is separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.
The only appositives that aren’t set off with commas are proper nouns because they always identify specifically who or what is being discussed.
We hope this helps to clarify the use of commas with appositives so that you will feel more confident choosing the correct answer to these types of questions on both the SAT and ACT.
If you feel like you need more practice deciding whether commas should set off appositive phrases, use the released tests provided by the College Board and ACT, or practice online with exam-like questions at UWorld.