An antecedent, in English grammar’ is a substantive word, phrase, expression, or a clause that can be replaced by a pronoun or any other substitute later, or sometimes earlier, or in the very same statement, or in a subsequent statement. The substitute of Antecedent is called Anaphor. Given below are some examples to make things clear
- I saw Jimmy at the restaurant, she looked upset. (Antecedent – Jimmy; anaphor – she)
- I was the one who had shared this with you. (Antecedent – I; anaphor – who)
- Ricky set himself up for a heartbreak by falling in love with Jenny. (Antecedent – Ricky; anaphor – himself)
As stated earlier, an antecedent can be replaced by anaphor before it shows up in a sentence. An anaphor that precedes its antecedent is called a cataphor.
Here are some examples:
- If I ever loved her, Jenny will regret losing me. (her – cataphor; Jenny – antecedent)
- John tried his might to convince her, but Angelina did not give in. (her – cataphor; Angelina – antecedent)
It is possible for an antecedent and its corresponding anaphor to be in different sentences. Example:
- John is my brother. He is a professor. (Antecedent – John; anaphor – He)
Antecedent as a verb phrase, or a clause. Example:
- David asked me to break the glass and I broke it. (Here the antecedent is the verb phrase – break the glass; anaphor – it)
- Steve told me Michael was in the playground, but I didn’t find him there. (Here the antecedent is the prepositional phrase – in the playground; anaphor – there)
The antecedent can also be a complete sentence.
David: Michael passed out in the playground.
Ricky: Who told you that?
Here the anaphor that refers to the entire sentence ‘Michael passed out in the playground’.