Example: rows 9 and 10 in the theatre are ??? rows.

Alternatively: rows 9 an 10 are ???-ly adjacent (while seats B and C are laterally adjacent).

There are words like subsequent, consecutive, etc., which have a somewhat temporal flavour, or at the very least hint at a sequential context (both are cognates of sequor, after all). But what's a good word choice for a strictly spatial context: an object behind/in front of another?

Clarification: I am a quasi-native speaker specifically curious as to why such a word seems so elusive, and equally as interested whether such a word exists in other languages. If there's no such thing, I'll accept that as an answer too.

  • And why not sequential?
    – bib
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:08
  • 2
    @bib I think the OP means that sequential implies a logic (numerical or other)
    – greener
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:11
  • What if there is no sequence? Maybe theatre rows are a bad example; say you only have two objects?
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:13
  • Note also that posterior to and anterior to fit the bill perfectly, except that they're uni-directional. I'm looking for a word to specify the objects' relationship in space.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:15
  • 4
    Er, who says adjacent means side-by-side and not just 'next to one another' as theatre rows are? Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:18

7 Answers 7


I would say the rows are stacked or ordered front to back.

  • 1
    Stacked clearly lies along the vertical axis. Although depending on the theatre, that might work just fine to describe the rows.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 1:07
  • 1
    I will accept this answer because it will help me with future theatre reservations, although it is not 100% spot on.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 1:14

If this were a spreadsheet, you'd refer to that direction as columns as opposed to rows.

If you are talking about a theatre row, then you would just say the row behind.

If you are speaking of people, then you could use in line, or in a column to describe this positioning.

  • 1
    Those are all good alternatives in specific situations, but I was specifically interested whether a single word to describe this positioning exists. What if you are describing three theatre rows, not two? If everybody agrees that there is no such word, that's okay too.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 4:13
  • 1
    @sebastian_k Two rows behind. Three rows behind. I don't know that there is a one size fits all here.
    – David M
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 5:34

I believe one could describe the position of theatre seats behind and in front of a row as being parallel.

I found a math problem which uses exactly this expression

The seats in a theater are arranged in parallel rows that form a rectangular region. The number of seats in each row of the theater is 16 fewer than the number of rows. How many seats are in each row of a theater that has 1,161 seats

And if you click on the link you'll see an image of parallel rows of trees.

  • Tandem as suggested by one user, reminded me of parallel parking.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 6:10
  • Hm, I hadn't thought of this before. It's an interesting choice and will work in some situations, although it doesn't cover the neighbour-neighbour relationship (e.g. the front and the back row are just as parallel to each other as are rows 9 and 10)
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 0:52
  • @sebastian_k Nothing is stopping you from saying: "the parallel front row" or "the parallel front row". And as for theatre row seats that are stacked that sounds as if the seats are placed one on top of the other.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 10:09

Appose/Apposite may indicate spatial proximity.

place (something) in proximity to or juxtaposition with something else. "the specimen was apposed to X-ray film"

(source: Google)


from The London encyclopaedia (Vol 2)

  • 1
    I don't see the difference to adjacent: as it says in your scan, it means "near or side by side", which is specifically not what I was asking.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 0:46

I've heard tandem used when talking about parking spaces that are one in front of the other.

  • 1
    Interesting, thank you! (Although I don't think it fits the bill in the general case, as it really seems to be limited to one-behind-the-other parking space pairs specifically when one end is walled off.)
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 4:02
  • Rather than "tandem", I have come across (and occasionally use) the expression "in tandem" to describe things which are one after the other, though I am unable to give any origin for it. And there is the tandem bicycle, as distinct from the sociable or side-by-side bicycle. Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 0:13

Back-to-back looks like a good fit as a single word. It can mean facing in opposite directions too but colloquially it has the sense of consecutive as well, although mainly for abstract concepts like games, shifts, interviews etc.

informal consecutive - Collins

Apparently, it is a term referring to the spacing between the seats in auditorium design also:

Back to Back Spacing:
Sometimes referred to as row spacing, back to back: this is the total space allocated for each row of chairs. It is the sum of the chair envelope and a clear passage that is required.

enter image description here


Recently, I came accross the adverb a-row (or arow); but it is a rare word.

Of place: In a row, rank, or line. - OED

Bonus option:

You can refer to the I formation from American football jargon as an analogy.

  • 3
    It'd be a rum theatre where the rows were back to back! Some sort of avant garde production, I expect.
    – peterG
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 3:31
  • 1
    Back-to-back is indeed the term that inspired this question: it didn't quite feel right as I was describing our theatre reservations to my friend. I often use the term in a temporal context (in place of "immediately after one another"), but in a spatial context it's hard to not imagine the rows facing in opposite directions.
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 3:58

Abutting should fit in this case. Juxtaposed may also work.

  • 2
    Abutting is an interesting choice, but I don't think it's any more specific than adjacent. Juxtaposed carries the notion that the objects were placed next to each other to achieve some effect (like contrasting them).
    – sk29910
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 3:53

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