Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.
Author:
Publish date:

Can a new president set a new precedent? Can a new precedent involve a new president? I suppose the answer is yes to both questions, but I imagine we need to clarify what each word means before the questions and answers make sense.

(20 most popular writing posts of 2020.)

So let's look at the differences of precedent and president, including a few examples of correct usages.

precedent_vs_president_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Precedent vs. President

Precedent is mostly used as a noun to indicate something that has happened before, whether exactly the same or in a similar way. For instance, there is a precedent of someone making a free throw shot in basketball, but there may not be a precedent of someone making 10,000 consecutive free throw shots.

Another slightly different meaning of precedent as a noun is that a precedent may be the model for something. Precedent can also be used as an adjective to describe something that happened earlier in time, order, or significance.

(7 Presidential Quotes About the Importance of Writing and Reading.)

President, on the other hand, is always a noun that signifies the top leader in a government or organization. For instance, the United States will inaugurate a new president today in Joseph Biden. But there are also presidents of corporations, sports teams, and secret societies.

Make sense?

Here are some examples:

Correct: The precedent of doing the dishes at night was set years ago and continues to this very day.
Incorrect: The president of doing the dishes at night was set years ago and continues to this very day.

Correct: The president of the baseball team helped select the new general manager and manager.
Incorrect: The precedent of the baseball team helped select the new general manager and manager.

Correct: The president followed precedent by continuing end-of-year bonuses to all employees.

Here's the trick I use for these two words: Precedent has the word "precede" in it, which itself means "earlier than." But also, the "i" in president makes me think of one leader above the others. Keep both tricks in mind, and I'm sure you'll keep these words straight moving forward.

And be sure to check out all the latest grammar rules here or these posts from 2021:

*****

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover Reveal

The July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest features a collection of articles about writing for change plus an interview with Jasmine Guillory about her newest romance, While We Were Dating.

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Debut novelist Lacie Waldon discusses how her agent encouraged her to write what she knew, but then her editor made her realize that what she thought was boring might not be the case.

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use pedal and peddle with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Debut author Marissa Levien discusses how she always knew what the beginning and the end of her science fiction novel The World Gives Way would be, but that the middle remained elusive.

Drawing the Line for Withholding Secrets in Young Adult and Middle-Grade Novels

Drawing the Line for Withholding Secrets in Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels

Middle-grade and young adult author Ren Koppel Torres shares the top tips for how you can keep secrets from your characters and readers.

Payal Doshi: On Letting Rejection Bring You Clarity

Payal Doshi: On Letting Rejection Bring You Clarity

Middle-grade author Payal Doshi discusses the sometimes-disheartening process of querying a novel and how she used rejection to fuel her passion for writing.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Writer’s Digest Conference Announcements and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce that our 2021 Annual Conference will be virtual, registration is open for our 2021 in-person Novel Conference, and more!

Rajani LaRocca: On Letting Your Synopsis Guide Your Writing

Rajani LaRocca: On Letting Your Synopsis Guide Your Writing

In this article, middle-grade author Rajani LaRocca discusses how the synopsis for her newest release, Much Ado About Baseball, guided her writing process.