Precedence vs Precedent

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What’s the difference between them?



Precedence is the priority given to one thing over another, especially in terms of relative importance, rank, or privilege.


1. The manager gave precedence to the most senior employees when making scheduling decisions.

2. Health and safety must take precedence over profit.

3. The court gave precedence to the plaintiff's argument.



A precedent is a previous court decision or action that serves as an example or rule to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.


1. The judge set a precedent with his ruling on the case.

2. There is no precedent for this type of behavior in our family.

3. We must follow the precedent set by the Supreme Court.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Primacy

2. Priority

3. Precedency

4. Prevalence

5. Preeminence

1. Subordination

2. Inferiority

3. Following

4. Posteriority

5. Lower priority


1. Example

2. Preceding occurrence

3. Conviction

4. Model

5. Preceding case/ruling/decision

1. Novelty

2. Innovation

3. Unprecedented

4. Unique

5. Break with Tradition

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Precedence", "Precedent".

1. Precedence is a noun that means the right to go before others, especially in respect to time or rank.

2. Mnemonic phrase: 'Precedence means going first!'

3. Precedent is a noun that means an earlier event or action that is seen as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.

4. Mnemonic phrase: 'Precedent sets the stage!'

Practice English with the Promova app and avoid misusing confusing words

Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word be used?

Precedence should be used when one thing should take priority over another or when indicating that something happened before something else.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word?

Precedent should be used when referring to a rule or situation that has been established in the past and which is used as an example for future cases.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words do not share the same pronunciation. Precedence is pronounced as 'pre-si-dens' while precedent is pronounced as 'pre-si-dent'.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

A common mistake when using these words is confusing precedence and precedent. Precedence is used to indicate which of two or more things takes priority while precedent is used to refer to a rule or situation established in the past.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. The court ruled that the ________ established by the previous case must be honored.

2. The CEO expressed that customer satisfaction was their highest ________.

3. The professor gravitated towards the ________ of the established rules.

4. He refused to compromise on ________ of the project.

5. The new law was based on a legal ________.

6. The team managed to set a new ________ for efficiency.

1. Precedent

Explanation: Precedent in this context means a prior example or rule that must be followed.

2. Precedence

Explanation: Precedence in this context means the priority or high importance placed on the value.

3. Precedence

Explanation: Precedence in this context means the importance of following the rules that have already been set.

4. Precedence

Explanation: Precedence in this context means the importance or priority of not compromising the project.

5. Precedent

Explanation: Precedent in this context means a prior example that has already been set that the new law is based on.

6. Precedent

Explanation: Precedent in this context means the prior example or record that was set for efficiency that the team managed to surpass.

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