Reference words can refer in three directions: upwards, downwards, and outwards.
The most common direction of reference is upwards to a previous portion of a text. This is called "anaphoric reference" because ana means "upwards" and phor means "to carry." And reference words that refer back upwards to a previous portion of a text are called "anaphoric words." Anaphoric words offer a writer streamlined ways of repeating, manipulating, and expanding previous information in a paragraph.
Note that anaphoric words frequently have the definite article the attached to them because a primary function of the definite article is to inform the reader that an item has been mentioned previously in the text.
The second most common direction for reference is downward to a subsequent portion of the text. This is called "cataphoric reference" because cata means "downward." Reference words that refer downward in a text are called "cataphoric words." Cataphoric words help a reader to predict what is going to happen in a text. They are a favorite stylistic device of novelists because their function is to arouse curiosity and suspense in a reader by giving only partial information about something that will be revealed later. In this way, the reader is enticed to keep reading.
The third direction of reference is outside the text, that is, to items that are not described explicitly in the text. This is called "exophoric reference" because exo means "outward." Reference words that refer outside a text are called "exophoric words." Exophoric words indicate assumed shared knowledge between the writer and the reader. Since the writer assumes that the reader knows what the exophoric words refer to, the writer does not bother to explain them in the text.
Note that an exophoric reference word may also have the definite article the attached to it because a secondary function of the definite article the is to convey that
(a) only one example of this item exists in the time and place being focused on;
(b) the reader most likely knows of its existence already.
The following paragraph is a continuation of the paragraph about Germany. Read through it and examine the reference words. Determine whether they are anaphoric, cataphoric, or exophoric. Then read the explanations below it.
Finally on 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces (1) and the war in Europe (2) was over. By June of 1945, Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union had occupied the whole country (3). Immediately, they (4) devised a system (5) for controlling Germany: They divided Germany into four sectors-6three in the west and one (6) in the east. They also divided the capital city (7) into four sectors with Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union each administering one sector of the city (8). All four countries (9) agreed to help rebuild German cities, farms, industries, and transportation systems. They (10) also promised to promote the establishment of a democratic form of government in Germany.
1. The noun phrase the Allied Forces is exophoric; this word refers loosely to certain members of the fifty nations that opposed the Axis countries during World War 2. Note the use of the definite article the, indicating that only one example of this item exists in the time and place being focused on and that the reader most likely knows about it.
2. The noun phrase the war in Europe is anaphoric, referring to World War 2, mentioned in the first paragraph.
3. The noun phrase the whole country is anaphoric, referring upward to the word Germany. Note the anaphoric use of the definite article the, informing the reader that this item has been mentioned previously in the text.
4. The pronoun they is anaphoric, referring upward to the four countries of Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union.
5. The noun phrase a system is cataphoric, referring downward to the description of the division of Germany and Berlin into sectors with Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union each administering one sector of Germany and one sector of Berlin.
6. The words three and one are anaphoric, referring back upward to the word sectors.
7. The noun phrase the capital city is anaphoric, referring all the way up to the word Berlin in the previous paragraph.
8. The noun phrase the city is anaphoric, referring back up to the capital city, which in turn refers to Berlin in the previous paragraph.
9. The noun phrase All four countries is anaphoric, referring upward to the four countries of Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union.
10. The pronoun They is anaphoric, referring back up to All four countries.