Consider we have the sentence

My bird likes sunflower seeds. She eats a lot of seeds everyday.

Using pronoun resolution we can replace she with the actual subject 'My birds'; converting 'She eats a lot of seeds everyday.' to 'My bird eats a lot of seeds everyday. '

Similarly, assume the below sentences where we have the 'the following [noun]':

  1. It stores itself in the following location: \windows.
  2. It tries to open the following file: file.exe.
  3. The following rows are deleted: row1 row2.

We simply can remove (resolve) 'the following' and write them as

  1. It stores itself in \windows. (Replaced the 'the following location:' with the actual location \windows)
  2. It tries to open file.exe. (Replaced 'the following file:' with actual file which it was referring to: file.exe)
  3. Row1 and row2 are deleted: row1 and row2. (Replaced 'The following rows' with row1 and row2).

Unlike the 'My bird eats a lot of seeds everyday.' where I used pronoun resolution here I am resolving object with the actual ones. My question is what is this technique? And what is the grammar behind this. Is there any specific naming for 'the following' ? Is there any specific naming for this kind of coreferencing? Any help and insight is greatly appreciated.

  • I don't think you need to see this as a special construction. It can be interpreted similar to these: store in appropriate location; meet the wive of Bob: Alice or vice versa, meet Alice, wife of Bob. The aforegoing is a first approach to the problem, which is suitable to ELU-Stackexchange, who this question will surely have been answerd before. I mean, you are looking for an English term to describe the phrase, or the test, though the same issue would work for many romance languages.
    – vectory
    Apr 6, 2020 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


Colons almost always present a list. Even when they're used to clarify what the preceding, possibly ambiguous sentence means, this is in essence listing. I went to the shop and bought five things: tea, coffee, x, y, z.

I went to the shop and bought only one thing: tea.

Lists can be one item long.

He showed the same emotion as before: fear.

With this borne in mind, I think your examples are just a sophisticated form of apposition.

This is apposition:

Jim, the baker.

The baker, Jim.

Just like above, the two referents being the same thing = apposition with a comma in between.

Your example could be apposition with the colon used to specify what 'the following' is, just like the comma does above. In Arabic, you see the same concept where it is known as 'badl' or the 'duplicate' which is what apposition basically is in English. Many languages share this phenomenon as it is common in all syntax and grammar.

In your example, the file is what is following the construction 'the following' and 'the following' is the file. Looks like sophisticated apposition to me, with a colon being used to clarify the ambiguous sentence preceding, and thus giving a list of one item.

  • Muhammed Ahsan Al-Haadee
  • 4th Year Applied Linguist, Masters student @ University of Birmingham, UK
  • thanks this was a great help! Apr 16, 2020 at 18:02

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