Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Those Nagging Little Problems (Part 9 of 16)

While teaching a class recently, I used the word antecedent. Two people looked confused. We writers (and especially editors) throw that word around quite a bit. We usually ask, “What is the antecedent?”

Here’s a simple answer: An antecedent is a noun which is replaced by a pronoun. Sometimes antecedent stands for a group of words that act as a single noun.

The most common is the use of it. For example: My new job doesn’t seem to get anywhere. Harry objects to everything, Marilyn passively shrugs, and Esther agrees without hearing the entire argument. It is chaotic.

Question: To what does it refer? Logically and grammatically, it refers to the last-mentioned noun. Thus, Esther is chaotic. We can easily fix the problem with these words: The situation is chaotic.

1 comment:

What are your thoughts?