- refers back to something earlier in the text (the antecedent)
oftenpossesses a meaning that can't be found out by looking the word or words up in a dictionary
But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days."Latter" refers to the Lion, and a dictionary can't tell you that.
source: Tales of Wonder From Many Lands: A Reader for Composition by Howard Canaan and Joel N. Feimer
Yesterday, in class, I found that most of my students were thrown by this passage. I assume the same has been true of students in all of my previous classes, but I never picked up on it. (aaarggh)
This sentence was a problem, too:
Some holidays are greatly overrated, Valentine's Day is one of them.Nearly all of the class thought this sentence was correctly punctuated, and not because they had no idea what a complete sentence (or clause) is. (I was pleasantly surprised on the 'what is a complete sentence?' front.)
source: Hunter College Reading/Writing Center Grammar and Mechnics
My students easily pegged "Some holidays are greatly overrated" as a complete sentence, but they vehemently denied that "Valentine's Day is one of them" could be complete because it doesn't make sense on its own. I do mean vehement. I had the same reaction from the rising 8th grader I worked with last week.
From the get-go, two falls ago, when I returned to the classroom, I've been trying to teach my students how to write cohesive prose. Writing cohesive prose means connecting sentences to one another, and connecting sentences to one another means using anaphora.
But now I'm going to be paying close attention to anaphora in reading comprehension, too.
Meanwhile, turns out Erica M. has been dealing with this issue forever:
Catherine, that is EXACTLY the kind of sentence my students have trouble with. That's why I do so many "is it a sentence or not?" drills with my students. They can't tell. Even kids at $40,000/year Manhattan private schools (especially kids at $40,000/year Manhattan private schools!) just can't figure it out. They can't separate grammar from context. That's why they write endless comma splices. I have one student right now, a very bright rising senior at a notoriously progressive Manhattan private school, whom I recently spent an entire session just doing "is it a sentence or not?/punctuate the comma splices" with, and the next practice SAT she took, she still got loads of them wrong! I'm going to keep having to write her drills. I bet that in her entire education, no one has ever made her do this. What disturbs me, though, is that her teachers have apparently looked past the problem for years.and see:
All good writing consists of good sentences properly joined.