concept in grammar

In grammar, an antecedent is a word or phrase that is repeated by another word or phrase. An antecedent is most often used with relative pronouns, words like "what", "that", and "who". The pronoun usually begins the relative clause and the antecedent is in the main clause.


I want a book that I can read.

In the above example, the relative pronoun 'that' refers back to the antecedent, the word 'book'. Therefore, the main clause is "I want a book" and the relative clause is "that I can read".

Some more examples:

  • Willy said he likes chocolate. - Noun as antecedent
  • My eccentric uncle likes chocolate. He tells everyone to buy him chocolate. - Noun phrase as antecedent
  • Larry was helpful, and so was Kim. - Adjective as antecedent
  • He arrived in the afternoonwhen nobody was home. - Prepositional phrase as antecedent

The relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, which, that.