Precede or Proceed?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Precede" and "Proceed"?

"Precede" and "proceed" are easy to confuse because they sound so similar (i.e., they are nearly homonyms).
  • "Precede" means "to come before" (usually in time but sometimes in rank).
    • A gong will mark the five-minute warning that precedes the call to dinner.
    • (Here, "precedes" relates to time. It means "comes before.")
    • When they are equivalent ranks, the Navy officers precede the Army officers.
    • (Here, "precede" means "outrank." This use of "precede" is rare.)
  • "Proceed" means "to go forwards" or "to continue."
    • The rain has stopped. Let's proceed.
  • "Proceeds" means "profits."
    • We shall give the proceeds to charity.
precede or proceed?

More about "Precede" and "Proceed"

"Precede" and "proceed" are common words, and your readers will expect you to get them right.

Precede

The verb "to precede" means "to come before" (usually in time).

Example sentences with "precede":
  • King George VI preceded Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The professor will precede the first lecture with his opening remarks.
  • The flight simulator is unable to replicate the airframe shudder that precedes the stall.

"Precede" Can Mean Outrank

Occasionally, "precede" can mean to come before in rank. For example:
  • Within the noble ranks, each peer is graded according to the date of receiving the peerage, but peers of England (prior to 1707) precede peers of Scotland (prior to 1707).
  • (The word precedence derives from "precede" in this meaning.)

Proceed

The verb "to proceed" means "to go forwards" or "to continue." The noun "proceeds" (always in the plural) means "the profit arising from an event or sale."

Example sentences with "proceed" and "proceeds":
  • As soon as security has removed the protesters, I shall proceed.
  • (Here, "proceed" means "continue.")
  • We are proceeding at pace.
  • ("Proceed" means "moving forward" or "progressing.")
  • Have you spent the proceeds from the disco already?
  • (In this example, the plural noun "proceeds" means "profit.")

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? The top 20 misspelled words List of easily confused words

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