Many of the university’s biology lectures proceed with a documentary. The latest one elucidated facts about the functioning of human heart. It is fascinating to know that during the heart’s function, an electrical rhythm precedes the heartbeat. This rhythm is generated by specialized cells occurring in the heart.

The words ‘precede’ and ‘proceed’ are verbs and it can be tricky to use them because of two reasons. Firstly, they sound similar enough to deceive the ears. Words that sound similar are called homophones. Secondly, both of these words carry the same root term ‘cede’ which descends from the Latin word ‘cedere’, meaning ‘to go’.

Adding the prefix ‘pre-‘ meaning ‘before’, behind cede makes ‘precede’ which literally means ‘go before’. Similarly, adding ‘pro-‘ meaning forward  to the root cede makes ‘proceed’ which means to advance.

In literature, precede means to happen or occur prior to someone or something. Proceed, on the contrary, simply means to move forward or continue ahead after a pause. Keep reading till the end to learn more on the topic.

Precede vs proceed – definitions, uses, and examples

Definition of precede

The word is pronounced as ‘pruh-seed.’ It means ‘to be earlier in time or occur or come before something or someone. It is often used to emphasize the chronology of a prior event in the course of other events. It is synonymous with the word ‘forego.’ Precede can also be taken to mean ‘to have a higher rank’ or ‘to be superior in authority. Present and past participles include preceding, and preceded respectively. The third-person simple present singular form of it is precedes. The noun form of precede is precedence.

Example sentences of precede

  • There was unusual silence that preceded the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The word ‘preceded’ here means ‘occurred before’. Much like the idiom ‘calm before the storm’, it signifies the occurrence of a state of quietness before the attack.

  • The president’s security protocol preceded him into the building.

Here, the word ‘preceded’ is used to mean ‘led.’ The sentence means that the president’s security guards entered the building before him which exhibits a measure of security.

  • A wise and just king preceded the young and arrogant prince on the kingdom’s throne.

The word ‘precede’ in this sentence describes that a king of humble nature ruled the kingdom before the prince of ominous qualities.

  • For students, the need to be indoors and safe precedes the need to attend physical classes in the time of a pandemic.

Here, precede emphasizes the better option of staying indoors. Staying alive has more gravity and importance as compared to staying physically fit (although physical health also deserves attention but cannot be prioritized in a world stricken with a lethal disease.)

Definition of proceed

Akin to precede, proceed is pronounced as ‘pruh-seed.’ It also harbors a Latin etymological root ‘procedere’ and can be literally translated to ‘go forward’. It is a verb and is used to mean ‘to move, advance, pass or go forward or onward. It can also be used figuratively to mean ‘to pass from one part or topic of a story or an argument to another. Verbs and phrases synonymous with ‘proceed’ include progress, carry on and go forth. Present participle of ‘proceed’ is proceeding while past participle is ‘proceeded’.

It is worthwhile to note that ‘proceeds’ can be used as both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means the same as described above. However, as a noun ‘proceeds’ mean gross revenue, collected donation, a fund or net profit.

Example sentences of proceed

  • He felt his friend’s temperature rising; he knew he would have to proceed on his journey alone now.

The verb ‘proceed’ in this sentence is used to mean ‘to advance forward’ in a literal fashion. The sentence describes a man who has realized that his friend is going to die and despite the imminent loneliness awaiting him, he must continue his journey.

  • The senator, noticing a look of confusion on his opponent’s face, proceeded to shred their argument to pieces.

Here, ‘proceed’ is used as verb to mean ‘to move ahead figuratively within a subject’. The sentence can be simplified to mean that the senator continued to justify his argument after noticing the confusion on his face.

  • The radio chattered ‘all weapons free’; the soldiers knew they could proceed with a free hand now.

In this sentence, ‘proceed’ means ‘to carry on with the mission’. The soldiers were given a signal over the radio to use their ammunition freely and abundantly.

  • The proceeds of this charity will go to the PWA, an esteemed organization that benefits children suffering from Thalassemia.

Here, the word ‘proceeds’ is used as a noun and it refers to the ‘collected amount of donation’ that will go to PWA, a welfare organization.


We hope that we have been able to fully explain the differences between the two words precede and proceed. Here’s a tip on how to remember their difference; the word ‘proceed’ has an ‘o’ and o is for ‘onwards.’ Hence, proceed means to move onwards while precede simply means to occur before.

After memorizing their meanings, incorporate these words in your sentences while going about everyday life and you will become a master in their usages in no time.