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Introduction vs. Preliminary: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
"Introduction" refers to the act of introducing or a section that starts something, while "Preliminary" denotes actions or events preceding the main ones.

Key Differences

"Introduction" and "Preliminary" are distinct terms, each describing a beginning phase but in differing contexts. An "Introduction" often refers to a starting section or a formal presentation of someone or something to another party.
"Preliminary," on the other hand, focuses on the idea of actions or events that come before the main event or more detailed work. It's more about preparatory steps that set the stage for what's to follow, whether in events, research, or actions.
Imagine a book: the "Introduction" is the part that presents the subject, the purpose, or the scope of the book, often providing a brief overview. However, "Preliminary" discussions or research might occur before the book is written, helping the author decide the structure or content.
In meetings, an "Introduction" is often the start, where participants might be introduced to each other or to the topic at hand. But "Preliminary" meetings might occur before the main gathering, to decide on the agenda or to gather necessary data.
Thus, while "Introduction" and "Preliminary" both deal with beginning phases, the former often is about presenting or starting, and the latter about preparing or setting the stage.

Comparison Chart


The act of introducing or the section that starts something.
Actions or events that come before the main ones.


Generally used in texts or when presenting someone.
Used to describe actions/events before the primary action/event.


Indicates the beginning section of books, research papers, etc.
Indicates initial stages or preparatory steps.


Presentation or commencement.
Preparatory or leading up to.


Introduction in a book, introduction of a person.
Preliminary research, preliminary rounds in a competition.

Introduction and Preliminary Definitions


A basic instruction or training in a subject.
The course serves as an introduction to physics.


Preliminary findings or results in research.
The preliminary data suggests a positive outcome.


A beginning section of a book or article.
The introduction of the novel outlined the main characters.


Introductory; leading to a subsequent main event or action.
The preliminary rounds determined who would compete in the finals.


The act of bringing in or establishing something new.
The introduction of new technology transformed the industry.


Denoting an action or event preceding or preparing for something fuller or more important.
Preliminary sketches were made before the final painting.


The act of setting forth or explaining a subject or theme.
His speech served as an introduction to the conference's main topic.


Occurring or done before the main action or event.
Preliminary discussions were held before the official meeting.


The act or process of introducing or the state of being introduced.


Serving as a preparation or used as a first step in a process.
They conducted a preliminary survey before diving deeper into the research.


A means, such as a personal letter, of presenting one person to another.


Prior to or preparing for the main matter, action, or business; introductory or prefatory.


Something recently introduced; an innovation
"He loathed a fork.
It is a modern introduction which has still scarcely reached common people" (D.H. Lawrence).


A contest to determine the finalists in a competition.


A preface, as to a book.


An event that precedes the main event, especially in boxing or wrestling.


(Music) A short preliminary passage in a larger movement or work.


An academic examination taken before a longer, more complex, or more important examination.


A basic introductory text or course of study.


An introductory remark made before a speech, presentation, or meeting.


The act or process of introducing.
The introduction of a new product into the market


In preparation for the main matter; initial, introductory, preparatory.
These are just the preliminary results.


A means, such as a personal letter, of presenting one person to another.
David was feeling groggy at his introduction to Sophie, and didn't remember her name.


A preparation for a main matter; an introduction.


An initial section of a book or article, which introduces the subject material.
This book features a preface by a well-known botanist, and an introduction by the author's mentor at university.


Any of a series of sports events that determine the finalists


A written or oral explanation of what constitutes the basis of an issue.


A relatively minor contest that precedes a major one, especially in boxing


The act of introducing, or bringing to notice.


Introductory; previous; preceding the main discourse or business; prefatory; as, preliminary observations to a discourse or book; preliminary articles to a treaty; preliminary measures; preliminary examinations.


The act of formally making persons known to each other; a presentation or making known of one person to another by name; as, the introduction of one stranger to another.


That which precedes the main discourse, work, design, or business; something introductory or preparatory; as, the preliminaries to a negotiation or duel; to take one's preliminaries the year before entering college.


That part of a book or discourse which introduces or leads the way to the main subject, or part; preliminary; matter; preface; proem; exordium.


A minor match preceding the main event


A formal and elaborate preliminary treatise; specifically, a treatise introductory to other treatises, or to a course of study; a guide; as, an introduction to English literature.


Something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows;
Training is a necessary preliminary to employment
Drinks were the overture to dinner


The first section of a communication


Designed to orient or acquaint with a situation before proceeding;
A preliminary investigation


The act of beginning something new;
They looked forward to the debut of their new product line


Formally making a person known to another or to the public


A basic or elementary instructional text


A new proposal;
They resisted the introduction of impractical alternatives


The act of putting one thing into another


The act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new;
She looked forward to her initiation as an adult
The foundation of a new scientific society
He regards the fork as a modern introduction


The act of making one person known to another by name.
Sarah made the introduction between Paul and her brother.


Do both "Introduction" and "Preliminary" signify the start of something?

Yes, but differently. "Introduction" often means the beginning or presentation of a topic, while "Preliminary" refers to preparatory actions or events before the main ones.

Can "Preliminary" be used in the context of research?

Yes. "Preliminary findings" are initial results before more comprehensive research or analysis.

Does "Preliminary" always come before a main event or action?

Typically, yes. It denotes initial stages or events leading up to something primary.

Can a sports event have a "preliminary" round?

Yes, "preliminary rounds" often determine who advances to the main or final rounds.

Can "Introduction" mean presenting a person?

Yes. For example, "Let me give you an introduction to my colleague."

In a book, where would I find the introduction?

The introduction is usually at the beginning, offering insight into the book's content and purpose.

Is "Introduction" only used in written content?

No. It can also refer to spoken presentations, like introducing a speaker or a topic at an event.

Are "preliminary discussions" conclusive?

Not typically. They are initial discussions, and decisions might be made later.

Is "introduction" synonymous with "preface"?

Not exactly. While both can be at the start of a book, a preface often discusses the book's genesis, whereas an introduction delves into its content.

Does every book or article need an introduction?

No, but many have introductions to provide context or a brief overview for readers.

What might "preliminary steps" imply in a process?

It implies initial actions taken before the main or more detailed steps of the process.

Can the introduction of a book be skipped?

While it provides context, some readers might skip it to get to the main content. However, it's beneficial for understanding the work's scope and intent.

Are "preliminary" results considered final?

No. They are initial findings, and further study or rounds might refine or change them.

Can "Preliminary" be abbreviated?

Yes, it's sometimes abbreviated as "prelim" in informal contexts.

Is an introduction always formal?

No. Introductions can be informal, like introducing a friend at a casual gathering.

Does an "introduction" provide detailed information?

Usually, no. It provides a general overview or context, leading to more detailed sections.

Can an "introduction" also be a tutorial?

Yes, especially when referring to a basic instruction or training on a subject.

Can "introduction" refer to the launch of a product?

Yes. For instance, "The introduction of the new phone model is next month."

How is "preliminary" different from "prelude"?

Both suggest something preceding a main event. However, "preliminary" is often about initial stages or actions, while "prelude" can be a separate introductory performance or event.

Is a "preliminary meeting" the main or final meeting?

No, it's often a preparatory meeting that occurs before the main one.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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