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Entity and Information Status Annotation

Delimiting markables

Markables for annotation include:

  • Any referential NPs (cf. Dipper et al. 2007), including pronouns, e.g. [the farm], [it].
  • Non referring NPs are not annotated; they are treated just like any other span of non-referring tokens, such as adverbs, adjectives etc. These include idiomatic NPs such a 'on the other hand' – in this case, 'the other hand' is not annotated. Strictly non-referential pronouns, such as 'it' in 'it rained' are also not annotated.
  • Verbal markables are annotated only if they are referred back to, e.g. “Kim [visited Seoul]. [The visit] went well”.
  • Cataphoric expletives are annotated, as are the clauses they represent, such as “[it] is clear [Kim was there]”.

Some more specific constructions and guidelines follow:

Copula Predicates (A is B)

  • Unlike OntoNotes (Weischedel et al. 2012), copula predicates are markables, whether or not they are coreferred to separately from the subject: [John] is [a teacher]. GUM distinguishes such indefinite predicates with a special type of coreference edge ('pred'), but this requires that such phrases are captured as mentions. Negative predication precludes coreference, but markables should still be annotated for negated copula predicates, which can sometimes be referred back to separately:
    • [John]1 is [a teacher]1, and [a teacher]2 must always… (note the second “a teacher” refers to all teachers, not just John)
    • [John] is [him] (identificational predication - also included and coreferring, though in this case the regular coreference anaphora type will be used, not 'pred')
    • [John] is not [a teacher] (no coreference, but still two markables)
  • The same reasoning is applied to cases such as [A] is considered [a kind of B] - both markables are created and they co-refer, albeit with the 'pred' subtype.
  • By contrast compare: “[A] is like [B]” or “[A] is similar to [B]” (two markables, but no coreference)
  • Copula coreference is not annotated for modal predication, since the copular identity is not complete and this can lead to contradictions:
    • [This] can often be [an advantage] but can sometimes also be [a disadvantage] (no coreference)
  • Cases with “[A] as [B]” may be annotated as coreferent if they imply identity of referents, similar to copula predication. For example:
    • YES coreferent: [John] worked as [a baker] (the baker is then literally the same as John, compare [John] is [a baker])
    • NOT coreferent: [John] is the same as [my brother] (John is not my brother; this is another form of the 'similar to' case above)

What to include in the markable

  • In most cases, the span of the markable will be the entire NP including modifiers, such as prepositional phrases that belong to the NP, possessors or genitives. Thus in “[the boy with the blue coat] saw [her]” the spans of the two markables are maximal, as delineated by the brackets.
  • Covering all modifiers includes clausal expansions, such as relative an infinitival clauses, as long as they are expanding the head noun. The following examples show clauses that are included inside the markable:
    • Relative clauses (acl:relcl): I saw [the girl who came to class]
    • Participial post-modifiers (acl): [The city of York, founded by the Romans] (not [The city of York], founded by the Romans)
    • Infinitival post-modifier (acl): [A chance to win]
  • Relatives expanding a controlling verb are not included in a noun's markable:
    • We helped [Joey], which really saved the day ('helping' saved the day, not 'Joey')
  • In some cases, adverbs such as “here” or “there” when referring to a place that has already been mentioned (or similarly “then” for a time) will also need to be made into markables, e.g. “…went to [London]. [There] …”. Such adverbs are not annotated if they are not referring back to a noun phrase or pronoun.
  • Occasionally, an entire sentence or clause will be referred to by a second referring expression, i.e. discourse deixis. In this case the entire sentence being referred to will be made into a markable, usually an event, and the coreference subtype is 'disc': “[the rain flooded the village.] ← [it] was terrible”.
  • When such reference does not occur, sentences are not made into markables. Note that if the entire sentence is inside the markable, then sentence final punctuation is also included in the markable (here the final period), but otherwise not (e.g. a sentence final VP markable would omit the final period).
  • It is possible that a sentence antecedent of a pronoun has been mentioned even before its most recent occurrence. In this case, previous occurrences will also be marked. For example, the clause “push the button for every floor” is considered given because the VP was mentioned in a previous title. In this case, all three markables should be linked together:
    1. [Push all the buttons]new
    2. When you get into the elevator, [push the button for every floor]giv
    3. [This]giv makes everyone's ride on the elevator longer, if just for a few seconds
  • Titles and epithets: Words like Mr., but also roles like President, are part of a markable and do not constitute an apposition (see below on appositions). As the third example below shows, plural titles can refer to an entire coordinate markable, each constituent of which is a markable without the title (since a plural title belongs only to the coordination).
    • [Mr. Smith]
    • [President Carter]
    • [Rappers [MC Hammer]person|new and [2Pac]person|new]person|new

Coordination (A and B)

  • Coordinate phrases generally receive separate markables for each component, e.g. “[restaurants] and [hotels]”. If both are referred to together, an additional markable is added: … [ [restaurants] and [hotels] ]. [They] are always expensive.
  • In cases where two (or more) nouns are not full NPs, i.e. when they share an article, we only assign one markable by default:
    • She is [my wife and best friend] (one markable, since both are determined by 'my')
  • The two submarkables sharing a determiner are also annotated in three exceptional cases:
  1.  When both nouns within such a markable are separately referred to later. For example
    * We saw [the [car] and [driver]] . [The car] was black and [the driver's] uniform matched [its] color.
  2.  If both submarkables would have different entity types (first sentence in example above). 
  3.  When both submarkables are named entities, which may require separate entity linking (Wikification):
    * [[The Galileo] and [Ulysses spacecraft]]
  • If there is aggregate mention to a mixed type markable, the entity type is 'abstract', e.g.:
    • We saw [ [a sheep]animal and [a bottle]object]abstract. [They]abstract were both white.

Interrupted and repaired markables

If a repair results in two separate NPs (even if incomplete), both are annotated, and can be coreferent in context. This can be identified by presence of either separate articles or head nouns (but see UD and tagging guidelines on which interrupted words are considered reconstructible). Compare:

  • [The whol-]object, [the whole thing]object (two articles, so two markables)
  • [some brown dog-]animal, uh [brown dogs]animal (two head nouns, so two markables)
  • [a brow- uh black dog]animal (single article and head noun, so one markable)

Other Specific Cases

State Names

  • States are generally available as individual referents, but City+State also form a markable. Note that the city markable is therefore longer. If Ohio is referred to later on in the text, it is coreferent with the smaller markable.
    • [Cleveland, [Ohio]]
  • Abbreviations such as [OH] for Ohio are also accepted as markables.
  • Entity names within complex tokens are not annotated (e.g. Googleable does not contain a subtoken markable “Google”), but if we have a segmentable hyphenated word such as 'church-related', we can annotate just the subpart 'church' as a markable, since it is a separate token.

Naming Constructions

In cases where a name for something is given, that name is coreferent with the thing being named, unless the name is being discussed as such, in which case it may form an abstract entity. The rationale for this is that subsequent reference to the name as a concept supercedes its reference to the thing it names.

  • [John]person called [himself]person “ [The Terminator]abstract ” . [This name]abstract … (note “this name” corefers to “the Terminator”, but not “John”, and is abstract)
  • Simple 'calling' constructions are interpreted as plain, nested coreference: “[A Boy named [Sue]person]person (with coreference)
  • Subsequent references to a name can corefer to the name markable if discussion of the name is intended, and not the thing being named. In such cases, the first mention of the name bridges to the most recent mention of the thing being named.


  • Full dates receive 2-3 markables: one for the month, one for the year, and one for the whole date (since the day is the head), but only if this does not create two identical spans:
    • [ 12 [March [2012]] ] (all three markables are 'time')
    • [ March 12 [2012] ] (a separate markable corresponding to the month is not possible, since 'March .. 2012' covers the exact same span of tokens as the entire date)
  • Months whose specific year can be resolved by referring back to a year mentioned earlier in the text are seen as bridging and accessible-inferable (acc:inf): 2007 …. ←bridge- October

Citations and references in Wikipedia

Authorial citations with author names are taken to be references to the author(s) and year (similar to “Smith said in 2009”):

  • [Smith]person [2009]time

At the same time, the entire reference is taken to be an abstract entity (the paper or book), so we add a third markable:

  • [[Smith]person [2009]time]abstract

Numerical links are taken to be mentions of the work, and therefore abstract in the same way. Coreference is also marked for each matching citation number:

  • … has been shown in the past ( [17]abstract ) Other studies disagreed … (see ←coref– [17]abstract )
  • In citation numbers in square brackets, only the number is part of the entity span, and square brackets are left outside the entity, since for multiple references we can get: [13, 17, 18]. But even for a single reference ”[4]“, only the number token is taken as the entity span for consistency.

Indefinite pronouns referring to verbs

Indefinite pronouns such as 'something' are only annotated if they refer to nominals. Cases referring to verbs can be identified for example by coordination with verbs:

  • It's messed up or something. (no annotation of 'something', which is coordinated with 'messed up', a verbal phrase)

Specific non-referential NPs

The following examples are not considered referential NPs:

  • “Every time (that)…” (i.e. 'every time' meaning 'when' or 'always')
  • “all the time”
  • “on a daily basis”
  • ”(in) line (with)“ (not an instance of a 'line')
  • “takes time” (can't refer back: ??”and that time is long“)

Information status

  • Information status has the following values:
    • auto - same as giv/new below, assigned automatically based on position in coreference chain
    • new - not mentioned before, first mention ('auto' may be used instead)
    • giv - mentioned before, must be linked to previous mention ('auto' may be used instead). The subtypes giv:inact and giv:act are automatically assigned based on previous mention earlier than the last sentence or not.
    • acc - accessible - not mentioned before, but immediately available, requiring no introduction. This includes:
      • generics (acc:com) - [the sun]acc, [the world]acc
      • indexical expressions (also acc:com) - [I]acc, [you]acc, [here]acc, [this]acc (when pointing to something)
      • bridging (acc:inf) - The company … [The CEO]acc (in this case, a bridging link must be made, see Coreference below)
    • split (acc:aggr) - indicates that a referent is given via previous mention of multiple non-adjacent parts, e.g. John … Mary … [they]split
  • Do not overuse the accessible generic category: not every definite NP is accessible if it is the first mention in the chain. Some examples that are not considered accessible:
    • [an Officer in [the [United States]new Air Force]new]new – although the US is definite and 'well-known' it is considered new on first mention, like any country introduced into the common ground. The officer is new (and indefinite). Although the speaker may assume that we know what 'US Air Force' is, it needed to be introduced into the discourse model, much like the introduction of a proper name that we know.
    • In the same way, the first mention of [Barack Obama]new is tagged as new, even though his identity is available to many speakers. The idea is that newness refers to the introduction into the discourse model, while accessibility suggests that something is already highly salient by participating in the current situation.
  • Personal pronouns that are inferable in the situation (I/me, you etc.) are accessible the first time they are mentioned (acc:com). They are subsequently tagged as ‘giv’, since they have already been referred to explicitly.
  • Information status for cataphors: see Coreference below.

Entity Type

There are 10 entity type:

  • person - any person, including fictitious figures, groups of people, and semi-human entities (Pinocchio)
  • place - a country (Iceland), region (Sahara)), or other place being referred to as a location (the factory - when used as a place, not to refer to the physical building)
  • organization - a company, government, sports team and others
  • object - a concrete tangible object
  • event - includes reference to nouns ('War', 'the performance') and clauses that are referred back to ('that John came')
  • time - dates, times of day, days, years…
  • substance - water, mercury, gas, poison … includes context-dependent substances, such as Skittles or baking chocolate
  • animal - any animal, potentially including bacteria, aliens and others construed as animals
  • plant - interpreted broadly to include fruits, seeds and other living plant parts, but not substances (e.g. 'wood' is not classified as a plant)
  • abstract - abstract notions (luck), emotions (excitement) or intangible properties (predisposition)

Special notes on entity types

With the exception of bridge relations, two coreferring markables must have the same entity type. This can be tricky when two markables seem to fall into two different categories. For instance, the owners of Steve's Bar may describe it as both their [business]organization and [a dive bar that locals frequent]place. But Steve's Bar is ultimately an organization, and so all markables will have organization entities (we pick 'the best class for the whole chain).


  • Names of businesses are generally tagged as organizations, even if they are used to indicate a location:
    • “We bought it at [Macy's]organization
  • This guideline does not apply to commercial locations used as places, such as: “at [the mall]place


  • Websites may often be considered places:
    • You can get more details at []place
    • We met on [Facebook]place (the website, not the company)


  • Indexical items like today, yesterday etc., are taken as (accessible) time terms


  • Titles of or references to authored works are abstract. Titles are coreferent with the work.
    • [The Bible]abstract vs. [this specific Bible]object


The coreference scheme is loosely based on the design principles of the OntoNotes coreferece scheme (Weischedel et al. 2012) but with more unrestricted coreference criteria (as in ARRAU, Poesio & Artstein 2008), and with specific relation types, inspired by the TüBa-D/Z coreference scheme (Teljohann et al. 2012), which can be used to include or exclude certain phenomena in the data. A major design principle is that coreference should serve to identify the discourse referent referred to by underspecified expressions such as pronouns, and allow us to track the behavior of discourse referents as their expressions evolve over the course of a discourse, including all mentions of any kind (i.e. not excluding predication or compound modifiers if relevant).

There are two major types of coreference links: coreference proper, and bridging anaphora. Coreference contains six different subtypes of cases which are automatically derived from the 'coref' type, and bridging covers at least three types of cases:

  • coreference
    • ana - anaphoric, a pronoun referring back to something: [the woman] ←ana– [she]. This is automatically generated from the 'coref' type when the anaphor is a pronoun.
    • cata - cataphotic, a pronoun referring forward to something: [it]'s impossible [to know] ([it]–cata→[to know]). Automatically generated when the first member of a chain is a non-accessible pronoun.
    • appos - apposition, same as in syntax: [Your neighbor],←appos– [the lawyer] came by earlier. Generated automatically
    • pred - predicative coreference with an indefinite copula or xcomp predicate ([John] is [a teacher]), but not incuding identificational predication ([Elizabeth] is [the Queen of England]), which is seen as identity coreference
    • disc - discourse deixis, reference to a non-nominal antecedent such as a sentence, VP or similar ([Kim arrived.] [This] was fortunate)
    • lexical coref - all types of coreference, including lexical mention: [Obama] …. ←coref– [President Obama]

from coref using the syntax trees.

  • bridge
    • bridging proper - some inferrable part-whole relationship, which requires no introduction for the anaphor thanks to the antecedent: [a car] ←bridge– [the driver]
    • non co-referential anaphora - cases in which the bridged anaphor is not part of the antecedent, but is underspecificed can only be interpreted thanks to mention of the antecedent: [a Chinese restaurant] ←bridge– [an Italian one]
    • split antecedent: [John] met [Mary] ←bridge– [They] took a table together (in these cases the anaphor has multiple antecedents, but coreference only applies between the last mention and all previous mentions)

Specific guidelines


  • Ages specified after a person's name are considered appositional, following the OntoNotes guidelines. The idea is that a phrase like ”[Mr. Smith], [43]“ is something like:
    • ”[Mr. Smith]person, [(a) 43 (year old)]person“.
  • The entity type is therefore also person for both markables in this case.
  • Note that other mentions of ages are abstract, including in ”[I] was [16]abstract“ (no coref, as in OntoNotes)
  • In cases where two full NP realizations of the entity are separated by a coordination such as 'and/or', the normal coref type is used, even if there is a subsequent apposition:
    • [My friend]←coref- and also [my hero]←coref-, [Mrs. Smith].
  • If two mentions share an article, they are no longer separate NPs, and they become one markable according to markable recognition rules: (see exceptions under markable definitions above)
    • [My friend and hero] ←coref- [Mrs. Smith]


Bridging occurs when two entities do not corefer exactly, but the basis for the identifiability of one referent is the previous mention of one or more previous referents. This can be because the second referent forms part of the whole described by the antecedent, or because multiple referents are aggregated into a larger referring expression (see examples below).

  • If the second referent designating a part or other predictable component of the first referent contains an explicit possessive, the possessive itself should be linked to the first phrase, and no bridging relation needs to be added (since the possessive coreference is explicit).
  • In the case of inferrable parts, the new referent is viewed as ‘accessible’ (by way of bridging) and inferable (acc:inf).
  • Aggregate referents, i.e. group referents (Mary, Jake → they) are viewed as ‘split’ at the anaphor, and the relationship is 'bridge' (information status: acc:aggr).
  • Examples:
    • It was [a beautiful statue]. [The head]object|acc:inf was made of marble.
    • [Endeavour] and [Atlantis] await a journey on [their]object|acc:aggr respective launchpads.
Not tagged as bridging
  • part with explicit possessive:
    • [The woman] raised [[her] hands]. (‘her’ is anaphoric to ‘the woman’, ‘her hands’ is not linked as bridging, though it can still be a referent)
  • Constructions with 'other', 'similar', 'different' or similar relational adjectives with an explicit noun:
    • [one kind of wine] … [another kind of wine] (note that if previously 'wine' is mentioned, both kinds of wine should bridge to that separately, but the two distinct 'one wine' / 'another wine' should not bridge to each other since they are no in a part-whole relationship (unlike 'all wines' ←bridge- 'this specific wine')
    • But note that without the noun (e.g. “one” anaphora), we do annotate bridging: [A great restaurant] … [a different one]
  • generic 'you' and 'us': cases of generic 'you' are not considered subsets of the aggregation in generic 'us', though each of these can have a group (you… you). Example: “If [you] want to [you] can only buy the tickets in person. This is annoying for all of [us], but it's the only way” (no bridging or coref from 'us' to 'you', but coref from [you] to [you])


  • Multiple mentions of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘your’, ‘mine’ etc. are linked via the coref relationship (subtype ana), just like 3rd person pronouns: [I] ←coref– [me]. In a conversation, one person's ‘I’ may corefer with a ‘you’ used by another interlocutor.
  • Instances of ‘I/me’ that are coreferent with a ‘you’ coming from the other speaker in the dialog are considered linked, via the ‘coref’ relationship like other pronoun chains: He went with [you]? ←coref– [I] went alone.
  • Pronominal 'one' is linked as ana in both generic uses ([one] usually likes [one's] house) and substitutive uses if strictly coreferent ([which one] did you get? [This one].). In a partitive context, bridge should be used (I have [beer]. Give me [one]; note that 'one' is a subset of the beer).
  • The indexical adverbs ‘here’ and ‘there’, when they have an explicit antecedent (e.g. 'your new place') qualify as pronouns for the purpose of coreference type, since their interpretation depends completely on the antecedent. The relation is therefore labeled coref (ana).
  • The reciprocal reflexive phrases 'each other' are regarded as anaphoric. They are linked with either one coref relation if an aggregate plural mention already exists, or with bridge relations, if the components of 'each other' have only been mentioned separately so far. The information status is acc:aggr in the latter case, otherwise giv.


Cataphora are pronominal or otherwise underspecified elements (including e.g. ‘those’) that precede an occurrence of a non-pronominal element that occurs within the same utterance and resolves their discourse referent.

Cataphora may be annotated in copula sentences as linking to their predicate, if the reference of the pronoun is otherwise unresolvable (see example below). Unlike other relations, cataphora point forwards, from the pronoun to the expression that resolves them. Examples:

  • [It]’s important [to brush your teeth]
  • In [her] address, [the chairwoman] said…

Subject in copula sentence:

  • [it]’s [a long game]
  • [This] was [a very difficult decision]

Information status for cataphors follows the value of their coreferent (the following mention). Thus both a cataphor and its subsequent mention may be considered new.

For clefts, the pronoun is not annotated at all, so there is no cataphora or coreference, though the entire nominal phrase including the cleft clause are marked up as an entity, following OntoNotes guidelines:

  • It was [Kim who sent the letter]

Note the non-agreement of 'it' and 'Kim' and the lack of substitutability, indicating no coreference but rather an expletive, non-referential pronoun.


The coref type is used for all types of lexical coreference. Some specific tricky cases that ARE included are:

  • Distributive 'each' phrases, when the 'each' phrase ultimately covers the entire set of referents in another mention. For example:
    • We invited [two groups], ←coref- [each group] paid separately. (although 'each group' is singular, ultimately the predicate 'paid' applies to both groups, and the phrase 'each group' can be considered to cover the same set denotation as 'two groups')
gum/entities.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/03 14:36 by amir