Antecedents are one of my favorite parts of grammar, as anyone who talks to me (about Grammar) finds out relatively quickly. Contrary to the face value understanding of antecedents as the noun a pronoun replaces, antecedents are one of the most widely used parts of grammar, we are just unaware of it when we use it. An antecedent is defined as something being replaced by something else, so any noun can replace another noun in the same function as a pronoun would be replaced. For example, If you referenced Thor, Ironman, and Captain America by name but then simply referred to them as the “heroes”, the aforementioned would be the antecedent for the word “heroes”.

The term antecedent could theoretically be understood as the simple opposite of subsequent, something that precedes as opposed to succeeding. More recently, however, the term antecedent has been used nigh exclusively for the purpose of defining the noun that is replaced by a pronoun, but this is simply too broad of a definition. Anything can be an antecedent, as demonstrated in the example above.

Don’t wait, use an antecedent in your speech today!  (As if you have a choice)


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