The word prefix means a fragment that is attached to the beginning of a word, modifying it's meaning. Similarly, the word prerequisite is a requisite that is needed before the subject of the prerequisite. Is there a word that means "an action that modifies another action and takes place before said action"? Or simply, "an action that you do before (another action)"? For instance:

 Picking up a spoon is a (pre-action) of eating soup.

Where pre-action would be a substitute for the word I'm looking for.

(Bonus if there is a similar word paralleling 'suffix' meaning 'to take an action after (another action)'.)

  • How about Picking up a spoon is preparatory to eating soup?
    – deadrat
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:33
  • @deadrat I thought about that but it feels more appropriate to say 'picking up a spoon is a preparatory action to eating soup'. I'm not sure this is the best example, honestly, because ideally the word indicates that the pre-action modifies the action, like a prefix modifies a word. And, I really would like a single word. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:37
  • 1
    Antecedent has some of the qualities you're looking for.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    Do you need a noun? Otherwise, you might say, "Picking up a spoon precedes eating soup".
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:43
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    It's a preliminary step or action, or just a preliminary.
    – Drew
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


I believe you are looking for


Although commonly used of a thing (the harpsichord is a precursor to the piano) it can also refer to actions or events.

  • Reason for downvote? Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 3:18

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