Sunday, 30 January 2011

Antecedent and Anaphor

An antecedent is a linguistic expression which provides the interpretation for a second expression (anaphor) which has little meaning of its own.

An antecedent is usually a noun phrase.
An antecedent usually comes before its anaphor.

  • If you see Ram, give him your shirt. (Antecedent – Ram; anaphor – him)
  • He went to his shop. (Antecedent – he; anaphor – his)
  • Ravi injured himself playing Volleyball. (Antecedent – Ravi; anaphor – himself)

An antecedent occasionally follows its anaphor.
An anaphor that precedes its antecedent is sometimes called a cataphor.

  • If you see him, give Ram your shirt.

Antecedent and its anaphor can be in different sentences.

  • Palaniappan is my brother. He is a merchant. (Antecedent – Palaniappan; anaphor – he)

An antecedent can be a verb phrase, an adjective phrase or a prepositional phrase.

  • My father asked me to open the door and I did it. (The antecedent ‘open the door’ is the verb phrase)
  • John thought Devi was in hospital, but he didn’t find her there. (The antecedent ‘in hospital’ is the prepositional phrase)

Antecedent can be a complete sentence.

  • Sita: Arun is teaching English.
  • Ragu: Who told you that?

The anaphor ‘that’ refers to the complete sentence ‘Arun is teaching English’.


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