Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean the West Ham fan up in the top row. ... ...

I don't know how to parse the sentence correctly, hence I'm not sure what it means.

-- Excerpted from Harry Potter.

  • 1
    "... and Dean (the West Ham fan) up in the top row."
    – Andrew
    Oct 12, 2018 at 15:36
  • The sentence could be misinterpreted as "and Dean (the West Ham fan up in the top row)." Additional commas would help: Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean, the West Ham fan, up in the top row. Oct 12, 2018 at 16:21
  • "Ron had already had a big argument with Dean Thomas, who shared their dormitory, about football. Ron couldn’t see what was exciting about a game with only one ball where no one was allowed to fly. Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean’s poster of West Ham football team, trying to make the players move." - From a few chapters before...
    – Richard
    Oct 12, 2018 at 16:29

3 Answers 3


A person named Ron and a person named Hermione moved to the location of a group. This group was composed of a person named Neville, a person named Seamus and a person named Dean (who was a fan of something called West Ham). The group was located in the row [of chairs or standing spaces] that was highest of all rows.

  • 2
    West Ham is the name of a prominent football Team in the London area, and almost all British readers would immediately understand "the West Ham fan".
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:38
  • 2
    @Colin Fine: And most British readers "of a certain age" would also recognise that West Ham fans in particular had a reputation for violence against supporters of rival teams (esp Millwall, a rivalry that goes back generations). But I don't suppose for one moment that Rowling had that allusion in mind - nor would many of her target audience (younger) readers pick up on it. Oct 12, 2018 at 14:07

"the West Ham fan" is an appositive describing Dean. Appositives are usually surrounded by commas.

Neville, Seamus, and Dean were in the top (highest/farthest back) row. Ron and Hermione went to go sit/stand with them. West Ham is a soccer team in England, and Dean is a fan of them.

The sentence would be more clear if it read:

Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean, the West Ham fan, up in the top row.


the West Ham fan is a noun-phrase standing in apposition with "Dean". The apposition is usually set off with commas:

He phoned Jones, the doctor on call, to notify him of the emergency.

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