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13.4 Pronouns: Finding a Pronoun's Antecedent

An antecedent is the word or group of words that comes before a personal pronoun and establishes the pronoun's meaning.

There's gravy on the table. Please clean it up.
Mario and his friends are washing the dishes while they plan the bowling tournament.
That's almost too good to be true.
Without the antecedents (the words in italics), the pronouns (in bold) would have no meaning. The word antecedent means "going before," so most personal pronouns point back to their antecedents. In the third example, the antecedent is the whole previous sentence.

Application 2
Some pronouns don't need antecedents.
I wonder what to do about the rising pork prices.
Everyone is asking what you think about the situation.
The pronouns above don't need antecedents because their meanings are clear without reference to words that go before them. The first person pronouns (I, me, we, us) always mean the speaker(s) or writer(s). The second person pronoun (you) always means the listener(s) or reader(s). In addition, many of the indefinite pronouns (like everyone) explain their own meanings.

Application 3  

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