Friday Archive Dive: Humor Me, Learn Some Grammar
Although your eyes glazed over when your English teacher started discussing pronouns and antecedents, he or she was actually giving a humor lecture.
An antecedent is a pronoun that takes the place of a noun introduced earlier in the sentence. However, when two or more nouns are introduced, it can be confusing which noun the antecedent is standing in for.
Usually, readers assume that the antecedent matches with the closest noun — the last noun mentioned.
And that means we can write perfectly ambiguous sentences and exploit them to our heart’s content because the misdirection is embedded directly into the sentence!