precede and proceed - the difference

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
To precede means to come before (usually in time).
To proceed means to go forwards or to continue.

The words precede and proceed sound quite similar, and writers some sometimes confuse them. However, their meanings are quite different.


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

  • King George VI preceded Queen Elizabeth II.
  • (in time)

  • 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.


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.

  • As soon as security has removed the protesters, I shall proceed.
  • (proceed = continue)
  • We are proceeding at pace.
  • (proceed = moving forward / moving on / progressing)
  • Have you spent the proceeds from the disco already?
  • (proceeds = profit)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

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? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words