Precede or Proceed?

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. correct tick
    • (Here, "precedes" relates to time. It means "comes before.")
    • When they are equivalent ranks, the Navy officers precede the Army officers. correct tick
    • (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. correct tick
  • "Proceeds" means "profits."
    • We shall give the proceeds to charity. correct tick
precede or proceed?

More about "Precede" and "Proceed"

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


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

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

"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). correct tick
  • (The word precedence derives from "precede" in this meaning.)


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. correct tick
  • (Here, "proceed" means "continue.")
  • We are proceeding at pace. correct tick
  • ("Proceed" means "moving forward" or "progressing.")
  • Have you spent the proceeds from the disco already? correct tick
  • (In this example, the plural noun "proceeds" means "profit.")
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.