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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2 Answers 2


Looking at the Corpus of Contemporary American English, I get the following data. (The sentences use either the singular or the plural of the words.)

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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.


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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