The completion of task A cannot be achieved until task B is completed.

I can therefore say that task A is in a group of tasks whose completion is suspended 'pending' the completion of task B. I can classify them as 'Pending'

But I want an adjective for the group of tasks that task B belongs to. A group of tasks, the completion of which allows other tasks to be addressed.

Pended? Pendant? - just can't pin down a word that works for this!

Any ideas please!

  • Google "critical path" and this pops up. Mar 3, 2014 at 20:14
  • Thanks - predecessor and successor in 'dependency analysis' is definitely close to what I'm after. It's just that the word 'pending' is in such common use, I feel there must be an exact counterpart to it - something that means 'pending on' Mar 3, 2014 at 20:30
  • 3
    Perhaps prerequisite tasks? Mar 3, 2014 at 20:57
  • @StoneyB: You should present that as an answer (the answer).
    – Drew
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:27
  • possible duplicate of What is the correct word for "dependee"? Mar 3, 2014 at 22:05

7 Answers 7


Prerequisite springs to mind.

  • It would be immediately intelligible to anyone who has attended an American university or played Dungeons and Dragons.

  • It can be deployed as either an adjective or a noun.

  • Its upstream and downstream scopes can be expressed economically (T’s prerequisites are S1 and S2, S1 is prerequisite to T).

  • It seems to me dependency / dependent are really the appropriate pairing here. At least they are a "linked pair", whereas there doesn't really seem to be an "opposite number" for a prerequisite. The only problem is people often use dependency / dependent as equivalents for "that which depends on something else". Mar 3, 2014 at 22:13
  • Thanks to all those suggesting 'Prerequisite' - It's a term I am used to using in other contexts and I'm surprised that I hadn't thought of it in this context as it certainly functions as a workable counterpart, even though it's not quite exactly right. Mar 3, 2014 at 23:15

Group B tasks are independent (at least with regard to Group A tasks) and Group A tasks are dependent.

You also might characterize Group B tasks as precursor tasks. A common definition of precursor is

a predecessor or forerunner

While that meaning does not describe the contingent relationship, the term also has a meaning in chemistry and biology

a chemical substance that gives rise to another more important substance

The overall sense of the term does convey that the first, independent element must precede and influences the latter, dependent element.

  • That's nice - I prefer precursor to predecessor. Predecessor has an 'historic' feel about it whereas 'precursor' seems somehow more applicable to future action. Mar 3, 2014 at 20:59

Microsoft, with their inscrutable program "Project", uses the following terms to describe task dependencies:

Predecessor A task whose start or finish date determines the start or finish date of its successor task. Successor A task whose start or finish date is driven by its predecessor task.

The word pending come from latin meaning hanging.

The corresponding word for that which causes something to be pending might be suspending, which, from latin, means causing to hang.

So, though it might be an unusual usage, a suspending task could be one that causes another task to be a pending task.

Another way to describe the preceding (lead the way) task would be to refer to it as the antecedent task, which means goes before. Alternatively, it can be the anteceding task.


In your example, the word 'pending', does not describe the tasks in group A. It is a word which, helps explain their relationship to the tasks in group B.

Other words than 'pending' could have been used, e.g. 'awaiting'.

The verb 'pending' only exists in an active continuous form, in present, past and future continuous tenses. 'The letter is pending/ was pending/has been pending/ will be pending signature'.

I cannot think of how it might be used in any non-continuous sense, (e.g. I have never seen: 'it pended', 'it will pend', 'it has pended' etc.).

Now, 'Job A is pending the completion of Job B' is the same thing as saying 'Job A is awaiting the completion of Job B'. But even using the latter I cannot turn it around so that Job B becomes the subject. But I could use the adjective 'integral' and say 'The completion of Job B is integral to the completion of Job A.'But that is not a present continuous form, I do realise that.

But I am afraid that is the best I can do.

Edit. The problem you have can be expressed simply. 'Whilst Jim is waiting for Bill, what is Bill doing?' I suppose you could say 'he is keeping Jim waiting', but that would suggest he was late.

  • Thanks - 'integral' comes pretty close to what I'm after! Mar 3, 2014 at 20:56

I use contingent in my apps to describe the exact same thing.

depending on something else that might or might not happen

I would simply have "Contingent on {NAMES}".

  • But I think what I'm after is the opposite of 'Contingent on' ! Mar 3, 2014 at 21:04
  • @NickMinnion - well it is a shortened version of "contingent on the completion of {NAMES}". You are saying that X step is needed before this step can be used. Having programmed a lot of apps I have never used dependent although I have used prerequisite for learning based apps. Mar 3, 2014 at 22:47

You've described a hypothetical proposition:

The completion of task A cannot be achieved until task B is completed.

It means that the completion of A implies that B is done as well. The problem is that it doesn't say anything about how B gets completed (just A).

We're saying that B is ok if A is ok, but we didn't say what it took to complete B. For that reason, the adjective 'pending' has no true logical counterpart.


How about causal or causative?

effective or operating as a cause or agent

  • Would the downvoters like to explain?
    – Mynamite
    Mar 5, 2014 at 18:41

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