What do you call a question that needs to be answered in the affirmative for a larger question to be answered in the affirmative?

I'm writing an introduction in this way:

This article attempts to answer the following question: <question specified>.

To answer this question, we also need to answer the ________ question: <subsidiary question specified>

What will fill the blank appropriately? "Subsidiary" seems weak and inelegant.

Any suggestions?

  • Perhaps subordinate, secondary, supplementary! Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 13:30
  • Rewrite. For example: To investigate this, we must first determine what the most economical solution would be. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 4:24

1 Answer 1


Consider preliminary:

coming before and usually forming a necessary prelude to something else

(source: Merriam Webster)

It's quite commonly used in (scientific) articles.

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