Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

precede and proceed - the difference

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)
Quick Test

Precede Can Mean Outrank

Occasionally, precede can mean to come before in rank.

  • 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.)