What is Antecedent and How to Use It?

5 January 2023 / Team Fun English Course

In English grammar, it is well known that there are a lot of terms that need to be learned if you want to understand English well. But, have you ever known things called antecedent? Well, in this article we will learn about what is antecedent and some examples about it!

Based on Merriam-Webster dictionary, what can define an antecedent is a preceding event, cause, or condition. To understand more about antecedents, you can check our explanation below!

What is an Antecedent in English Grammar?

What is an Antecedent in English Grammar

In English grammar, antecedent is known as a subject that will be renamed by the other word later in a sentence. It is often an antecedent replacing the pronoun. But, it is also possible for an antecedent to replace nouns and/or phrases.

Well, if you don’t know exactly what a pronoun is, then here’s a simple reminder for you: a pronoun is a word that can refer to, or restore a noun. You can also use a pronoun as a noun phrase by itself. See? It is simple!

So, basically, antecedent can mean “earlier” despite its definition in English grammar, which is a phrase, word, or clause that can be indicated by a pronoun. Simply, if there is a pronoun that appears in a standalone sentence, then an antecedent is needed to complete the sentence!

So, Why do We Use Antecedent?

Why do We Use Antecedent

Antecedent is important because it can make your sentence clear for readers to understand. Without an antecedent, readers may see your sentence as an incomplete sentence. Evenmore, your sentence can be seen as a meaningless one!

Therefore, to avoid common mistakes in using an antecedent, you need to be aware that you can not use an antecedent as an adjective. Because, it will change your sentence into a dense and awkward one.

How to Use an Antecedent?

How to Use an Antecedent

So, how to use an antecedent in your sentences?

First of all, you need to understand the pronoun and antecedent agreement. Basically, it is an agreement that indicates pronoun and antecedent must agree in number. It means that if you use a singular antecedent, then it is necessary for you to use a singular pronoun. Same rule goes if you choose to use a plural antecedent.

Here are more explanations on pronoun-antecedent agreement!

7 Rules of Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Here are 7 rules and examples in pronoun-antecedent agreement.

1. Indefinite Pronouns

In some sentences, it is possible that antecedent is an indefinite pronoun in a sentence (ex: everyone, either, or somebody). Here is an example of it!

Few of the awardees knew where to find their new room.

2. Clause or Phrase that Appears between Subject and verb


The knife was put in its place.

The prepositional phrase that appears between the antecedent knife and its pronoun doesn’t alter the antecedent’s number. Therefore, both of them are singular.

3. Compound Subjects

When you decide to join the compound subjects with “and”, then you need to use a plural referent. Example:

Mike and Naye had their dinner at the pantry.

But, keep in mind that if you joined the compound subject with “or” or “nor”, then the referent is plural or singular based on the antecedent that is closest to the pronoun. Example:

Neither the worker or the leader understand their job description.

4. Collective Nouns

A collective noun such as group and team can be plural… or also singular!

The event team had its party last night.

In the example above, the word team is like a single unit. Therefore, the referent pronoun that we use is singular. Here is an example of the word team that act as individuals, which make the referent pronoun plural.

The event team sent all of their emails.

5. Plural Subjects that have Singular Meaning

Some words can sound like plural but it actually has a singular meaning. As an example,

Checkers has lost its appeal for me.

For this kind of sentence, you need to use a singular referent with it.

6. The Usage of Many and Every

You need to use a singular noun when having the words every or many before a noun or a series of nouns. Example:

Every fork, plate, and knife had its drawer cleaned today.

7. Titles of Entities

When you write things related to an entity with a title, then you need a singular referent. Example:

Itaewon is known for its clubs.

So, now you can understand what is antecedent and how to use it. To understand more about antecedent, you can join an english course. Such as Fun English Course that you can take online! Therefore, you can enhance your skills in English grammar!

Rate this post
Open chat
Ada yang bisa kami bantu ?