linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

, cataphora (; from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, '' καταφορά'', ''kataphora'', "a downward motion" from '' κατά'', ''kata'', "downwards" and '' φέρω'', ''pherō'', "I carry") is the use of an expression or word that co-refers with a later, more specific, expression in the discourse. The preceding expression, whose meaning is determined or specified by the later expression, may be called a cataphor. Cataphora is a type of anaphora, although the terms ''anaphora'' and ''anaphor'' are sometimes used in a stricter sense, denoting only cases where the order of the expressions is the reverse of that found in cataphora. An example of cataphora in English is the following sentence: * When he arrived home, John went to sleep. In this sentence, the pronoun ''he'' (the cataphor) appears earlier than the noun ''John'' (the postcedent) that it refers to. This is the reverse of the more normal pattern, "strict" anaphora, where a
referring expression In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
such as ''John'' or ''the soldier'' appears before any pronouns that reference it. Both cataphora and anaphora are types of
endophora Endophora refers to the phenomenon of expressions that derive their reference from something within the surrounding text (endophors). For example, in the sentences "I saw Sally yesterday. She was lying on the beach", "she" is an ''endophoric'' exp ...


Other examples of the same type of cataphora are: * If you want some, here's some parmesan cheese. * After he had received his orders, the soldier left the barracks. * If you want them, there are cookies in the kitchen. Cataphora across sentences is often used for rhetorical effect. It can build suspense and provide a description. For example: * He's the biggest slob I know. He's really stupid. He's so cruel. He's my boyfriend Nick. The examples of cataphora described so far are strict cataphora, because the anaphor is an actual
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

. Strict within-sentence cataphora is highly restricted in the sorts of structures it can appear within, generally restricted to a preceding subordinate clause. More generally, however, any fairly general
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language ...
can be considered an anaphor when it co-refers with a more specific noun phrase (i.e. both refer to the same entity), and if the more general noun phrase comes first, it can be considered an example of cataphora. Non-strict cataphora of this sort can occur in many contexts, for example: * A little girl, Jessica, was playing on the swings. ('The anaphor ''a little girl'' co-refers with ''Jessica''.) * Finding the right gadget was a real hassle. I finally settled with a digital camera. (The anaphor ''the right gadget'' co-refers with ''a digital camera''.) Strict cross-sentence cataphora where the antecedent is an entire sentence is fairly common cross-linguistically: * I should have known it: The task is simply too difficult. * ''Ich hätte es wissen müssen: Die Aufgabe ist einfach zu schwer.'' (Same as previous sentence, in German.) Cataphora of this sort is particularly common in formal contexts, using an anaphoric expression such as ''this'' or ''the following'': * This is what I believe: that all men were created equal. * After squaring both sides, we arrive at the following: x = y^3 + 2z - 1.

See also



{{Formal semantics Figures of speech Pragmatics Semantics (linguistics)