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antecedent

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips

A pronoun takes the place of a noun. When writing, you'll use a pronoun and that pronoun will refer to some noun close by. That noun (the referent) is called the antecedent. The prefix ante might make you think that all antecedents come before the pronoun. But that's not true. Pronouns are either anaphoric (backward‑looking) or cataphoric (forward-looking).

Here's an anaphoric pronoun. It looks back to the antecedent:

  • John is my friend. He came to our house for dinner.

Here's a cataphoric pronoun. It refers to an upcoming antecedent:

  • When he came to our house, John brought abottle ofHope &Gracepinot noir.
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