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An anaphor is an element which depends for its reference on the reference of another element.

In binding theory, anaphor is an element which must be A-bound by an antecedent within its binding domain.


Himself in (a) is an anaphor with John as its antecedent. The ill-formedness of (b) and c is due to the lack of a proper antecedent: himself does not agree in person features with I in (b), and John is outside the binding domain in (c).

   (a)	John hates himself.
   (b)  *I hate himself.
   (c)  *John says that I hate himself.


Traces of NP-movement are also considered as anaphors.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Chomsky, Noam A. 1986. Knowledge of language: its nature, origin and use. Praeger, New York.
  • Chomsky, Noam A. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding. Dordrecht:Foris.
  • Fiengo, R. and R. May. 1994. Indices and identity. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.