Absolutely appositively wrong

It’s a little thing, but it means a lot. At least to me. I’m talking about the comma, of course. And about the grammatical geniuses on the Yahoo! front page who have no idea when to use one:

Here’s a hint: There’s a comma missing after the word installment. And for those who are still following along, it’s required because Skyfall is in apposition to installment.

An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that defines or further identifies the noun or noun phrase that precedes it. If an appositive is essential to the meaning of the noun preceding it, then there’s no comma between the two. So, this would be correct:

The hit singer lends her lush vocals to the 007 installment “Skyfall.”

If the noun preceding the appositive provides sufficient identification on its own, use commas around the appositive. The title “Skyfall” is an appositive. It’s not essential to uniquely identify the noun installment  because there’s only one next 007 installment; there’s no confusion about which 007 movie the writer is referring to.

The hit singer lends her lush vocals to the next 007 installment, “Skyfall.”

So, that’s the grammatical geek explanation. My explanation is, put a comma wherever you think there should be a pause.

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