Louis XIV, the Sun King

Thor, the God of Thunder

In this kind of structure, should there be a comma before its nickname?

  • Can you explain why you think there would/wouldn't be one?
    – Gamora
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 11:15

2 Answers 2


The grammar used is called an appositive.

From the Purdue Online Writing Lab (I have had to remove the differently coloured text—since it can't be reproduced here; I am using italics to represent the noun or pronoun and bold italics to represent the appositive):

An appositive is a noun or pronoun — often with modifiers — set beside another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it. Here are some examples of appositives (the noun or pronoun will be in [italics], the appositive will be in [bold italics]).

  • Your friend Bill is in trouble.

  • My brother's car, a sporty red convertible with bucket seats, is the envy of my friends.

  • The chief surgeon, an expert in organ-transplant procedures, took her nephew on a hospital tour.

An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it.

  • A bold innovator, Wassily Kandinsky is known for his colorful abstract paintings.

  • The first state to ratify the U. S. Constitution, Delaware is rich in history.

  • A beautiful collie, Skip was my favorite dog.

Note that the use or omission of commas is due to whether the appositive information is nonrestrictive or restrictive—not simply because an appositive is used.

If, for example, there were five people named Thor in a room and only one of them was the God of Thunder, then you would need to use a restrictive appositive—without a comma:

Of the five Thors present, Thor the God of Thunder was the first to get angry, but Thor the salesman was the eventual winner of the argument.

It's when there's only a single person named Thor among the group that a nonrestrictive appositive, with a comma, is used.

In the example sentences in the question, it's likely there's only one person in the discussion named Louis XIV, or one person named Thor, so a comma is fine. However if there were at least two people in the discussion with one of those names, then the comma should be removed.

Note, too, that there is a difference between a name and a title.

For example, Thor might go by the name (or nickname) Thor the Magnificent. In that case, there is no appositive because the entire phrase is what he is using to call himself. Even though the components of the nickname are made up of a given name and a title joined together, the result is a compound proper noun—rather than a proper noun followed by an appositive.

This makes an analogous distinction between his full name (a proper noun), Thor Odinson, and a title or description of himself (using a nonrestrictive appositive) that follows his first name: Thor, the son of Odin.


Yes, the examples are correct. Before introducing someone’s title, i.e. The Sun King, God of Thunder, there should be a pause, which the comma serves as.

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