Cohesive Devices - Anaphoric Nouns

Using nouns to refer to previous parts of a text
 

Anaphoric nouns are nouns which are used to refer back to some object or idea already presented in a text. They are usually very general words and often abstract nouns because they refer to ideas, arguments, theories and so on. They constitute an important class of words in academic discourse.

The text below contains examples of nouns used anaphorically to refer to previous items. It also contains other reference items, some of which are highlighted and explained. The text is taken from an article, How memories are formed and retrieved by the brain revealed in a new study, in "The Conversation" by Benjamin J. Griffiths and Simon Hanslmayr from the University of Birmingham and you can access the full article here. The Conversation  You can also view the complete text by clicking in the top right hand corner of the first section below.  Click in each paragraph to view these items. You can pause the animations with a mouse down or touch down action. The full text contains many examples of nouns used anaphorically including these little details, the experience, that meal, the meal, the process, this phenomenon, these details, the experiment, these associations, this pattern, the event, the memory. You can see that the nouns are all preceded by words like the, this, that, those - determiners and demonstrative pronouns indicating that a reference is to be found somewhere in the text. Other examples are such, former, latter, other, same, another. Examples of their use are given below.

 

Further Examples of Noun Reference


Anaphoric nouns are often preceded by determiners such as the, this, that, these, those, such, former, latter ...

The following are a few examples:

this
So the important question of whether periodontal disease causes heart disease has yet to be determined. This issue was recently addressed in a statement by the American Heart Association. (Roberts-Thomson n.d.)

this


case
point
stage
area
period
study
process
approach
problem
issue
view
situation
reason
group
place
information
question
project
method
part


these
There are then two chief duties of roots, to absorb water from the soil for the whole plant, and to hold it firmly in the ground. The fine fibres of the root, which are so much divided and run in the soil, serve both these purposes, as they expose a large area to contact with the soil, and so can absorb much from it, as well as getting a good hold of it. (Stopes 1906)

these


changes
people
problems
areas
circumstances
questions
cases
factors
matters
issues
view
figures
results
conditions
words
groups
findings
points
terms
ideas


such
Very often you may find plants of the same species as those that grow so tall in the hedge, growing in the shorter turf away from it, and there only reaching their usual height. This shows us not only that different species are specialised to grow under different conditions, but that even two individual plants of the same species may be growing within a few feet of each other, and yet have quite a different appearance owing to the influence of their immediate surroundings. There are many such cases to be seen in the hedgerows. (Stopes 1906)

such


cases
matters
circumstances
people
information
questions
changes
areas
problems
systems
work
conditions
behaviour
issues
groups
action
schemes
studies
evidence
terms
activities
situations
measures
factors
places
items


such a
" ..the squids of our coasts vary in length from eight inches to one foot; and the giant Architeuthis of the North Atlantic measures, often, fifty feet from the end of its arms to the tip of its tail. Such a creature, with its long arms provided with suckers, its powerful jaws, and its rapid, alert movements, is a formidable foe". (Foote Arnold, 1901)

such a


thing
case
system
situation
policy
move
view
state
person
scheme
change
man
place
position
time
manner
strategy
statement
decision
theory
success
claim
clause


such an
Sometimes the leaves are arranged in a circle all round the stem at the same level; this is the case in the horsetail, and such an arrangement is called a whorl, but it is not very common in plants. (Stopes 1906)

such an


event
arrangement
agreement
analysis
interpretation
argument
exercise
attitude
effect
idea
application
act
action
undertaking
environment
outcome
opportunity
assumption
organisation
offence
effort
incident
enterprise
offer
increase


former
This eclipse settled for ever the doubt as to whether the Red Flames belonged to the Sun or the Moon, and in favour of the former view.

former


president
member
director
minister



latter
[Bailey's beads] are observed to form before the total phase, and often also after the total phase has passed. Under the latter circumstances, the beads of light eventually run one into another, like so many small drops of water merging into one big one.

same
If you were asked to give the signs of life in an animal, it is likely that you would think at once of its power of breathing, eating, growing, and moving. Now when we ask the same question about plants the answer does not appear to be quite so easy to find, because at first sight plants do not seem to do any of these things except the growing. (Stopes 1906)

same


thing
day
period
year
amount
age
size
place
>reason
number
direction
level
>effect
position
problem
point
area
rate
side
pattern
colour
group
price
principle
manner
moment
degree
question
class
species
situation
result