“I met John at Mr. Brown's party. He told me about his new friend.” Now, while the speaker met John in Mr. Brown's party is acceptable, John informing the speaker about his own new friend in the second sentence sounds uncomfortable and makes the entire conversation blurry. It is clear that the word ‘he’ refers to John in the second sentence, but whether 'his' refers to John or Mr Brown is confusing. Antecedents are of particular importance in connection with relative pronouns; the pronoun usually opens the relative clause, but the antecedent is located in the main clause. These words that appear in place of pronouns are called antecedents. An antecedent may not necessarily be a word; it can even be a phrase or clause. This way, replacing pronouns with antecedents makes a correct sentence, thereby making use of proper English grammar. Let’s look at some examples of antecedents that can be of help to you while forming sentences and paragraphs. Take a look!
Examples Of Antecedents
Example 1: I guess he’s enjoying himself. Here, the antecedent is not the subject ‘I’ but the object ‘he’. As such, the antecedent has been extracted from the object of the sentence.
Example 2: This packet of ice-cream will soon scatter itself into pieces. In this sentence, the antecedent is the subject ‘packet’ and not object ‘ice-cream’. As such, the antecedent has been extracted from the subject of the sentence.
Example 3: Susan loves swimming. She does it every day. Here, both the subject ‘she’ and object ‘it’ are antecedents. Both the words have been replaced by respective antecedents in the second sentence.
Antecedents Joined By ‘AND’
Example 1: Tom and Jerry enjoy traveling to their hometowns. In this sentence, both ‘Tom’ and ‘Jerry’ are antecedents and are indicated with the use of ‘and’; therefore, the referring pronoun is plural ‘their’.
Example 2: The cats and dogs tasted their new dishes. Both cats and dogs are in plural form. Thus, the referent pronoun is plural ‘their’.
Antecedents Joined By ‘OR/NOR’
Example 1: Either Sam or Jack will win his race.
Example 2: Neither Ann nor Rose likes working on her computer.
In the above two sentences, all the antecedents are singular which are indicated through ‘or’ or ‘nor’. Thus, the sentences have a singular referent ‘his’ and ‘her’.
Example 3: Each of the girls got her own sweater.
Example 4: Someone loves creating special for himself.
Example 5: Everybody was asked to remove his or her socks before entering.
Sentences that make use of indefinite pronouns, such as each, someone, everybody, somebody, nobody, anything, or no one, apply singular referent.
Example 6: Neither the father nor the daughters ate their dinner.
Example 7: Neither the daughters nor the father ate his dinner.
The antecedent closer to the verb will give the referent its form. As such, the first sentence includes ‘their’ since daughters is closer while the second sentence has ‘his’ since the antecedent is singular ‘father’.
Example 1: None of the food is in its original form.
Example 2: All music in its original form is enjoyable to listen.
Since food and music are non-countable nouns and are used in singular form in the sentences, the referent too is singular.
Example 3: All CDs were placed back in their respective shelves.
Example 4: Some documents went missing from their files.
Since both CDs and documents are plural forms, their referents are plural as well.
Example 1: The company is searching for a person who can meet all the deadlines.
Example 2: He is the student whose father owns a Mercedes.
In both the sentences, the referents are ‘who’ and ‘whose’ that have been used to identify the noun antecedents.
Example 3: Who will top the examinations this year? (Will she top the exams?)
Example 4: Whom will you eliminate this week? (Will he be eliminated?)
In the above sentences, the antecedent itself plays the role of a noun and pronoun. In such cases, one has to mentally use the referent to get the answer.
With these examples illustrating antecedents, hope you must have understood the use of antecedents in your daily English language properly.