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Preceding vs. Succeeding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
"Preceding" means coming before in time or order, while "Succeeding" means coming after or following.

Key Differences

The terms Preceding and Succeeding relate to the order or sequence of events, objects, or time. Preceding indicates what has already happened or what comes before, while Succeeding points to what comes next or follows.
In chronology, if we discuss events in a timeline, Preceding events are those that happened in the past relative to a reference point, and Succeeding events are those that will happen in the future from that same point. For instance, 1990 is Preceding 2000, whereas 2010 is Succeeding 2000.
Preceding and Succeeding also have spatial connotations. In a line or queue, the item Preceding is positioned in front of another, while the item Succeeding is positioned behind. In literature, the Preceding chapter comes before the current one, and the Succeeding chapter comes after.
Notably, while both words indicate relative positioning, Preceding generally has a backward-looking perspective, emphasizing what has already been. In contrast, Succeeding has a forward-looking perspective, emphasizing what is yet to come or follow.
It's crucial to recognize that Preceding and Succeeding are often used in formal, chronological, or organized contexts. They help in understanding sequences, maintaining order, and indicating positions or timing in relation to a specific reference point.

Comparison Chart

Temporal Reference

Before a point in time
After a point in time



Spatial Order

In front of or ahead
Behind or following

Usage Context

Often in formal sequences
Common in outlining sequences


Focus on what has been
Focus on what is yet to come

Preceding and Succeeding Definitions


Leading or introducing a particular event or action.
The events preceding the war are crucial to understand its cause.


Following in sequence or as a result.
In the succeeding chapter, we will explore modern civilizations.


Existing or occurring before something else.
The preceding chapter discussed ancient civilizations.


Coming after something in time or order.
The succeeding days were filled with joy and laughter.


Former or previous.
The preceding owner of the house was an artist.


Resulting or consequent.
The succeeding events were a result of the earlier decisions.


Being in front of or prior in sequence.
She acknowledged her preceding mistakes and promised to change.


Following and replacing another.
The succeeding generations will face new challenges.


Existing or coming before another or others
In preceding years.
On a preceding page.


Taking over a role or position.
He will be the succeeding CEO of the company.


Existing or coming immediately before another or others
The preceding year.
The preceding page.


To come next in time or order
She fell sick, and what succeeded was an outpouring of concern from her fans.


Occurring before or in front of something else, in time, place, rank or sequence.
On the preceding Monday Shobana had gone on vacation.


To replace another in office or position
The prince succeeded to the throne.


Present participle of precede


To accomplish something desired or intended
"Success is counted sweetest / By those who ne'er succeed" (Emily Dickinson).


Going before; - opposed to following.


(Obsolete) To pass to a person by way of inheritance.


In the direction toward which stars appear to move. See Following, 2.


To come after (something) in time or order; follow
Winter succeeds autumn.


Existing or coming before


To come after and take the place of
The heir succeeded the king.


Preceding in time or order


Following, next in order.


Of a person who has held and relinquished a position or office;
A retiring member of the board


Present participle of succeed


Coming before in time or order.
The storm the preceding night caused a blackout.




The act of one who, or that which, succeeds; also, that which succeeds, or follows after; consequence.


Coming after or following


(of elected officers) elected but not yet serving;
Our next president


Is Succeeding only about future events?

Mostly, but it can also indicate following in sequence or order.

Can Preceding refer to past events?

Yes, it often indicates events that happened before a reference point.

Is Preceding always related to time?

No, it can also relate to order or sequence.

Can Preceding mean prior?

Yes, it often indicates something that comes before.

Can Succeeding be used in the context of success?

No, "Succeeding" refers to order or sequence, not achievement.

Can Succeeding be used for generations?

Yes, like the succeeding generations after the current one.

Can Preceding be used in spatial contexts?

Yes, like the car preceding another in a line.

Is Succeeding synonymous with subsequent?

Often, both can mean following in time or order.

Does Preceding have a forward focus?

No, it generally has a backward focus.

Does Succeeding imply replacing something?

It can, especially in roles or positions.

How is Preceding used in legal contexts?

Often to refer to earlier clauses or statements.

How is Succeeding used in business contexts?

Often to indicate someone taking over a role or following in sequence.

Are Preceding and Succeeding opposites?

In many contexts, yes, they indicate before and after.

Does Preceding always imply immediacy?

No, it just indicates before, not necessarily immediately before.

Can Succeeding be used in sports?

Yes, like a player succeeding another in a position.

Can Succeeding be used in literature?

Yes, like the succeeding chapters of a book.

Does Succeeding always mean immediately after?

Not always, but it often implies following in sequence.

Can Preceding indicate a former role?

Yes, like the preceding president.

Can a Succeeding event be a result of a preceding one?

Yes, it can indicate a consequential order.

Is Preceding similar to previous?

Often, both can refer to something that comes before.
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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