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Precede vs Proceed


  • ‘Precede’ (verb) means ‘come before something’ (as in a timescale).
  • ‘Proceed’ (verb) means ‘move forward with a course of action’.

What’s the difference between ‘precede’ and ‘proceed’?

Although they look and sound similar, they have very distinct meanings.

  • A helpful tip is to remember that the meaning of ‘precede’ relates to time, and that of ‘proceed’ with movement or action.
  • ‘Proceed’ is often followed by a preposition such as ‘with’ (e.g. ‘proceed with a task’), but can also function on its own (e.g. ‘we decided to proceed’).
  • ‘Precede’, on the other hand, cannot be used on its own and is always followed by a complement (e.g. ‘events that preceded the war’).

How they’re used

Example sentences with ‘precede’

  • A fall in blood sugar levels was found to precede meal onset in rats.
  • This suggests that subjective memory complaints precede dementia in elderly patients.

Example sentences with ‘proceed’

  • In this paper, we analyze how to proceed with interpreting hospital admission data.
  • The ICC prosecutor decided not to proceed with examining the case.