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Reverse Apposition

In this video, we’re going to go through a type of apposition. That means when two words or phrases are next to each other. But with a little twist. Or, should I say, shift. And this is called a reverse apposition. To show you this, let’s read this sentence.

Although a devoted physician with a thriving practice, Albert Schweitzer was no mere musical dabbler but a blank organist. His Bach recordings are even prized today. So you may think oh, look, there’s this wonderful shift going on. Although a devoted physician and then I can just go to the blank and think of something that is the opposite of devoted physician.

It is actually not correct and in a sense, this is also a false shift. Rather, there’s a different structure going on here. It’s not that although isn’t signalling, signalling some sort of contrast between the phrases on either side of this comma. However, if we read more closely, we will see that, ah-hah, the contrast is, he was very busy as a doctor, as a physician, yet he wasn’t just someone who toyed around on the organ.

So notice the structure, he was not A, in this case A stands for musical dabbler. But B and there in lies the shift, so A has to be the opposite of B. So, what word would go in the blank then? Not a person who’s a musical dabbler, someone who toys around. But the opposite is, would be someone who is skilled.

Now, if you’re unsure, it’s always good to read the entire sentence, as well, because we’ll see at the end there’s another clue, his Bach recordings are even prized today. Well, he is someone that people like to listen to in terms of an organist. So, if people want to buy his music or at least listen to the recordings, then he’s not someone who just toys around the piano, at the piano or, in this case, the organ.

But he’s actually someone who is skilled. Based on that, we can go through the answer choices here. Cautious is not quite the same thing. A loyal organist, so you’re usually loyal to a group or a friend, it doesn’t really imply this idea of skill, being a master at something. Nor does the word generous, which kind of plays out this idea of being a doctor here.

Fledgling means something that’s just beginning. Which would be the opposite of someone who is skilled and finally that leaves us with consummate, which is someone who is highly accomplished at something. In this case, Schweitzer was highly accomplished as an organist. Now, going back to this reverse apposition real quickly, you have here the structure, not A but B.

And this is a common, or probably the most common, form of the reverse apposition. You can also have here, he was A, not B, which is a little bit more straightforward and that’s when the GRE, usually you won’t see this because it’s a little bit too obvious. And you’ll usually see the not A but B structure.

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