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Antecedent

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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English seems a pretty simple language at one glance but when you go deeper into it you will realize that there are many terms and things in this language which you are not familiar with. Antecedent is one such term. It is an English grammar based word which has some context that we need to understand in order to use it in the right way.

In this article I will discuss the meaning and context of antecedent in detail so you can better understand the word and use it in your everyday language reading and writing.

Antecedent

If you are familiar with nouns and pronouns, it will be very easy for you to get the grasp of antecedent because it is based on these two parts of sentence. A noun is a name of a thing where as a pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun. An antecedent on the other hand is the noun in a sentence which is represented by a certain pronoun in the same sentence.

Examples:

Sara is a lovely girl.

She is a lovely girl.

Sara is a lovely girl until someone provokes her.

Consider the above three examples. In the first example, Sara is used which is a noun. The second sentence makes use of only pronoun she but we don’t know which she the sentence is referring to. The third example is that of an antecedent which uses both noun and a pronoun i.e. Sara and she. In this sentence, Sara is the antecedent.

An antecedent can also be a phrase or a clause which is replaced by third person pronouns like he/his/him/himself/she/her/hers/herself/it/itself/they/them/their/themselves.

Examples:

Adam chewed his sandwich like a gorilla.

In this example, Adam is antecedent whereas his is a personal pronoun.

An antecedent can also be a word, clause or phrase that is replaced by demonstrative pronouns like this/that/these/those.

Example:

Sheila always takes a bus back home. Now this shows her determination to reduce global warming.

In the above example, a demonstrative antecedent is used. Can you figure out where? Yes, you got that right. Bus in the first sentence is antecedent which is replaced by this (descriptive pronoun) in the following sentence.

Other than that, antecedent can also be replaced by a relative pronoun in a sentence/s like who/whose/whom/that/which.

Example:

Delivering newspapers as a side job, which was considered very low in his society, was what Steve actually enjoyed doing.

In this example, delivering newspapers is the antecedent and which is the relative pronoun used as a point of reference for it.

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