comma with apposition (drink, title): ...drink, the koumiss, is made


Senior Member

In advance: I know the title of the thread is too general, but I couldn't make up a better one - if someone can, please change it!

So... Do I need the commas in the following conext?

The best-known Mongolian drink, the koumiss, is made of fermented mare's milk.

I have always had difficulties with structures like that.

Another example:

Chaucer's most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, is a collection of short stories.

  • You do need the commas. In the first sentence "koumiss" is in apposition to "drink." You can't just put two nouns next to each other without something to indicate their relationship. In this case, the commas indicate that koumiss and drink are the same thing.
    The commas are necessary, as they are necessary with most appositives:

    My son's teacher, Mrs. Johnson, told me that he is a good student.

    My eldest daughter, Mary, was born in 1984.

    The most beloved flower in Greenwhiteland, the blue kazoodle, has a lovely fragrance.

    Note that you do not need a "the" here:

    The best-known Mongolian drink, koumiss, is made of...