Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Imagine the following:

A -> B

B is consequent (and subsequent) to A, because A implies B.

How might one describe A relative to B? "Presequent" gets a few search results... but perhaps there's a better-established word?

Another example:

Because it rained, the grass is wet.`

The wet grass is consequent to the rain. How can one make a similar statement about the rain itself?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

You could say that the rain is antecedent to the grass getting wet. The Oxford English Dictionary writes that:

A thing or circumstance which goes before or precedes in time or order; often also implying causal relation with its consequent.

So, antecedent is often paired with consequent. They write further that in logic:

Hence, in various special applications, of which the logical and grammatical are the earliest uses of the word in English: Logic. (Opposed to consequent.) The statement upon which any consequence logically depends; hence †(a) The premisses of a syllogism (obs.); (b) The part of a conditional proposition on which the other depends. †(c) By some early logicians the subject and predicate were called antecedent and consequent.

For example, a usage in writing is:

1870 F. C. Bowen Logic v. 128 All Hypothetical Judgments obviously consist of two parts, the first of which is called the Condition or Antecedent.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 15000!!! –  Daniel Oct 10 '11 at 0:31
add comment

Precedent also works as an adjective.

The rain is precedent to the wet grass.

share|improve this answer
1  
But I don't think many people would understand this use. –  Colin Fine Sep 30 '11 at 11:59
    
Precedent has a specific connotation, and I fear that it's too frequently misunderstood. –  Peter Sep 30 '11 at 13:22
    
"Precedent" is normally used as a noun rather than an adjective, and means "something that happened before and is now the established rule or custom". This has a very formal definition in law, where you say things like, "The judge ruled against Mr Jones in accordance with the precedent established in the Smith case", meaning, because one court ruled a certain way, future courts tend to rule the same way to give the law consistency. –  Jay Sep 30 '11 at 15:16
    
"Precursive" would be far better than "precedent" in that sentence; e.g., "Rain is precursive to wet grass." –  jwpat7 Sep 30 '11 at 15:21
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.