Generic antecedents are representatives of classes, referred to in ordinary language by another word (most often a pronoun), in a situation in which gender is typically unknown or irrelevant. These mostly arise in generalizations and are particularly common in abstract, theoretical or strategic discourse. Examples (with the antecedent in boldface and the referring pronoun in italics) include "readers of Wikipedia appreciate their encyclopedia", "the customer who spends in this market", and "each of the compounds that have been analysed".
The question of appropriate style for using pronouns to refer to such generic antecedents in the English language became politicized in the 1970s, and remains a matter of substantial dispute.
Other articles related to "generic antecedent":
... Some modern prescriptivists argue from the valid use of they in certain contexts, to making it valid or even mandatory in all ... Other prescriptivists argue ideologically that generic he should be proscribed ...
Famous quotes containing the words antecedent and/or generic:
“Far from being antecedent principles that animate the process, law, language, truth are but abstract names for its results.”
—William James (18421910)
“Mother has always been a generic term synonymous with love, devotion, and sacrifice. Theres always been something mystical and reverent about them. Theyre the Walter Cronkites of the human race . . . infallible, virtuous, without flaws and conceived without original sin, with no room for ambivalence.”
—Erma Bombeck (20th century)