The source:

In Reed's case, it was the disease yellow fever, but this idea allowed William C. Gorgas to abate the transmission of yellow fever and malaria in the construction of the Panama Canal.

It seems like these words don't fit together. The structure is "the NOUN + ADJ + NOUN." To me it would sound better if it were: "the yellow fever disease," "yellow fever the disease."

  • Yellow fever the disease sounds like a title of some movie. It seems as if the 'yellow fever' is introduced as the disease. :)
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 4:52
  • It's we who are responsible for that is an example given in the book. Here, the word disease is renaming yellow fever and in such case, they generally follow the verb to be - Swan's Practical English
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


Great question!

Here "yellow fever" is an appositive . It is noun-next-to-noun and behaves like an adjective (describing disease)

Sometimes the appositive is encapsulated in commas.

  • Should not be the adjective (or whatever purports to be the adjective) placed before the noun?
    – mosceo
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 23:39
  • It follows the noun.....see....grammar-monster.com/glossary/appositive_apposition.htm Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 23:41
  • @Graduate It's exactly the same construction as "Germany's Chancellor, Andrea Merkel" or "the composer Richard Strauss". Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 23:46
  • @StoneyB Are there any rules concerning the need for commas.......when to use them......when to avoid them?? Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 23:50

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