Skip to main content

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.

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.

Sugar House Review Market Spotlight quote

Sugar House Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Sugar House Review, a nonprofit poetry publication based out of Utah.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 28 is remix time.

Brian Lee Durfee: On Finishing a Fantasy Trilogy

Brian Lee Durfee: On Finishing a Fantasy Trilogy

Artist and author Brian Lee Durfee discusses what it felt like to write the final sentence in his Five Warrior Angels trilogy with his novel, The Lonesome Crown.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 5 WDU Courses, our Short Short Story Competition, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce 5 WDU courses, our short short story competition deadline, and more!

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 27

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 27 is all about resolutions.

Willaims, 11:26

Preslaysa Williams: On Finding Hope in Romance

Award-winning author Preslaysa Williams discusses the process of writing her new romance novel, A Sweet Lowcountry Proposal.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 26

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 26 requires a second thought.

12 Books That Make Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

12 Books That Make Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

Here are 12 books released in 2022 that make perfect gifts this holiday season for the reader in your life.

Writing a Nonfiction Crime Story in a Literary Style

Writing a Nonfiction Crime Story in a Literary Style

Rigorous research, incorporating  authentic dialogue, and adding details from true-to-life moments, author Deborah Larkin shares how she wrote a nonfiction crime story in a literary style.