Definition of antecedent
- events that were antecedents of the war
- The sackbut was the antecedent of the trombone.
“John” is the antecedent of the pronoun “him” in “Mary saw John and thanked him.”
what are the antecedents of the American Revolutionary War?
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antecedent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
A basic principle of clear writing is to keep your antecedents clear. Pronouns are often used in order not to repeat a noun (so instead of saying "Sheila turns 22 tomorrow, and Sheila is having a party", we replace the second "Sheila" with "she"). But sloppy writers sometimes leave their antecedents unclear (for instance, "Sheila helps Kathleen out, but she doesn't appreciate it", where it isn't clear who "she" is). Watch out for this possible problem when using not just he and she but also they, them, it, this, *and *that. And keep in mind that antecedent isn't just a grammar term. You may talk about the antecedents of heart disease (such as bad eating habits), the antecedents of World War II (such as the unwise Treaty of Versailles), and even your own antecedents (your mother, grandfather, etc.).
I'd like to follow up on an antecedent question from another reporter.
grammar : a word or phrase that is represented by another word (such as a pronoun)
: something that came before something else and may have influenced or caused it
antecedents : the people in a family who lived in past times
: earlier in time
What made you want to look up antecedent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ