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
    Mar 17 '17 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. Mar 17 '17 at 22:37
  • 1
    Antecedent has some of the qualities you're looking for.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 17 '17 at 22:41
  • 1
    Do you need a noun? Otherwise, you might say, "Picking up a spoon precedes eating soup".
    – Lawrence
    Mar 17 '17 at 22:43
  • 1
    It's a preliminary step or action, or just a preliminary.
    – Drew
    Mar 17 '17 at 23:10

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? Mar 18 '17 at 3:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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