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When is it appropriate to use "prerequisite for" instead of "prerequisite to"? Does it depend on context, or is it a matter of style?

I googled the two phrases and found 4.5 million hits for "prerequisite for" and 3 million for "prerequisite to".

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Since you have some responses below that seem to answer your question, please consider marking one of them as ‘Accepted’ by clicking on the tickmark below their vote count. This shows which answer helped you most, and it assigns reputation points to the author of the answer (and to you!). – N.N. Oct 7 '11 at 7:06
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Looking at the Corpus of Contemporary American English, I get the following data (the chart shows the result of the search, which include phrases using both the singular and the plural):

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Looking at the sentences included in the CoCA, it doesn't seem prerequisite is used with different meanings.

Does one seem like a prerequisite for the others?

Since primacy in undersea warfare is a prerequisite for other naval operations, priority must be given to expanding the navy's edge […].

According to Humboldt (Aksan, 1998), language is a prerequisite to the materialization of thought.

The prerequisites of these procedures are the reader's actual and fictional encyclopedias -- they are individually differentiated.

Thus, for Central Asia, two indispensable prerequisites of a future democratic evolution are the avoidance of either internal or interstate wars and the continuing external pressure for reform to reinforce the efforts of domestic reformers and to achieve a more broadly based, transparent, and legitimate basis for domestic security.

A prerequisite to fostering a full understanding of mentor programs is developing a definition that applies equally to the community college setting and business or pre-college programs.

The first prerequisite to thinking creatively is the desire to think imaginatively and a good place to start that process is by noticing creative images in magazines, cartoons, TV and movies.

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I always think of the "for" version to mean "must exist prior to event" and the "to" as "event that must occur prior to subsequent event". By that, I mean conditions that must exist but are not events and events that proceed events, but I am not sure of the technical aspects of each.

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It seems particularly difficult to establish 'rules' here as the examples above show. We could probably say, however (correct me if I am wrong) that if prerequisite is intended as an adjective, then the adjectival form is most commonly followed by 'to':

e.g., The satisfactory completion of French I is prerequisite to enrolment in French II.

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protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 19:01

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