What is an Antecedent

We Tell You What an Antecedent is, With Examples and References

If you are a literature student, then you must be knowing what an antecedent is. If not, then this article presents some examples of antecedents along with an explanation that might help you.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
An antecedent is precisely defined as "a word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers, understood by the context". We use these antecedents a number of times in literature or during a normal conversation with someone, but often don't realize the usage. The following is an example of an antecedent.

The dog goes wild, and he always messes up my front yard.

In this sentence, the object is the "dog", and the word "he" is used to describe the object (dog) so that the part of the sentence, "always messes up my front yard", can be understood better. Therefore, "dog" is the antecedent and "he" is the pronoun, which refers to the antecedent. Like this, there are many other examples of an antecedent which can be used in our daily lives to make the English language clearer and understandable for commoners.

Usage of Antecedents in Grammar

There can be many examples which are used to describe it more clearly. Antecedents are used mainly to make the sentence clear to the reader or the listener, because using references like 'it', 'their', 'them', 'he/she', etc. in a sentence with no subject is very confusing to grasp. Therefore, these antecedents make grammar and composition words more precise.

Another way to define an antecedent is "the word where the noun and pronoun agree to make the sentence sound correct". An antecedent can be used in the singular, where pronouns like he, she, it, his, or hers are used. And they can be plural, where pronouns like they, them, their, theirs, etc., are used.


Some of the most basic antecedent examples in grammar have both the noun and the pronoun, where the noun is usually known as the antecedent. This is because the pronoun refers to the noun. However, an antecedent doesn't always have to be a noun for correct grammar usage, it can be any object which is being described by its pronoun. Here is a list of examples put together, along with a few explanations.

The Inferno is very precise; it was written in terza rima.
Antecedent: The Inferno
Pronoun: it

Mary lost a glove and she can't find it
Antecedent: Mary and glove
Pronoun: she and it

The boy who pitched the game is worn out.
Antecedent: Boy
Pronoun: who

Mark has decided to sell his car.
Antecedent: Mark
Pronoun: his

Rick and Phil raced their bikes.
Antecedent: Rick and Phil
Pronoun: their

All the players took their boots to the game.
Antecedent: players
Pronoun: their

The frog ate the fly and it died right out.
Antecedent: fly
Pronoun: it

Mother made the pie but forgot to serve it.
Antecedent: pie
Pronoun: it

If a person wants to succeed in corporate life, he or she has to know the rules of the game.
Antecedent: person
Pronoun: he, she

I never go to that place because it has stale bread.
Antecedent: place
Pronoun: it

With the help of these examples and their explanations, you may have learned what an antecedent is. Now that you know how to use them to make sentences in English sound grammatically correct, you can apply it in practical speech, and make speaking the language easier.