Antecedents are nouns or noun phrases that refer to the pronoun. If you are eager to learn them or know more about them, read this.

What Are Antecedents in English?

What Are Antecedents?

'Antecedents' are nouns or noun phrases that refer to the pronoun. They can be put before or after the pronouns. Remember, any kind of pronoun can replace the antecedent based on its position and function in a sentence.

Mark saw himself in the mirror.

The cat put its feet on the mud.

Types of Antecedents

'Antecedents' can be singular, plural, common, proper, countable, uncountable, etc. This means any category that exists for a noun can be used for an antecedent as well. For example:

Marco went through his stuff and found a picture of himself when he was young.

The birds were flying over the clear sky. They seemed happy.

Agreement of Antecedents and Pronouns

The pronoun must agree with the antecedent when it comes to number, gender, etc. So keep in mind that you cannot use a singular pronoun with a plural antecedent or vice versa. Check out the examples:

Maria was a mess; I called her yesterday.

The ants were trying to enter the ant hill. They all managed to do though.

'its' refers back to the subject 'the cat'

What about Possessive determiners?

When we use antecedents, the possessive determiners that refer to them have to agree with the antecedents. For example:

The boy used his phone to make a call.

Harry and I booked our room two months ago.

Vague Pronouns with No Antecedents

You cannot use a pronoun vaguely when there is not any antecedent or when the antecedent is not present. However, sometimes the antecedent is absent but we can understand what the pronoun is referring to from the context. Look at the examples.

It is blue.

Call them.

Here if we did not mention what 'them' is referring to in advance, the listener gets confused.

Antecedents with Different Types of Pronouns

Now let us look at different types of pronouns and their antecedents with some examples:

I have talked to Jimmy. He wants to travel around the world.

The chair was old, but still it looked good.

The dog broke the glass itself.

Alex opened the email himself. I did not know, there was an email at all.

Where is the bag that I bought yesterday?

Hanna is the girl whom we met yesterday.

Sara and Sam love each other.

Hanna! Look at the sponge it is under you.

Antecedents and Demonstrative Pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun can refer back to a noun or noun phrase which is called the antecedent. Check out the examples for more clarification.

He drives very well, I like to be like that.

Maria is rude I can not bear this.


Antecedents are words that refer back to the pronoun. Remember, antecedents can be nouns or noun phrases. Antecedents and pronouns have to agree on number, gender, case, etc.


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