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What is an antecedent?

The antecedent is the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers. A pronoun usually refers to something earlier in the text and in standard English, pronouns nearly always agree in number (singular, plural) and gender with their antecedents. In the sentence "Jim was the guy who painted their house," guy is the antecedent of who. Antecedent literally means 'going before' (deriving from Latin antecedens, antecedent-, present participle of antecedere, 'to go before', from ante-, 'before' + cedere, 'to go'). An antecedent thus typically goes before the pronoun.

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