Looking up this on English exchange I couldn't seem to find a single source of truth:

Instance 1 - "Prerequisite" in search: "Prerequisite for" vs. "prerequisite to"

Instance 2 - "Pre-requisite" in search: Single word for "This task cannot proceed until these other tasks are completed first"?

I suppose it's a bit of a broader question:

Words seem to have "pre-" prepended to indicate action or applicability before something. However these same words also have a fully-qualified English word which appears to meet the same function.

E.g. "pre-condition & precondition", "pre-requisite & prerequisite".

When do we use one or the other? Is the "pre-" variant always incorrect usage when a fully qualified word exists?

Apologies for any of my own grammatical errors in posting. Possibly the most self-conscious forum for posting questions in!

1 Answer 1


In short, prefixes with a hypen, e.g. "pre-" should be avoided unless it will not be clear to the reader what the word is. This is even more the case if there is an existing word so, in your case, "pre-requisite" should not be used.

Interconnection -- not Inter-connection;
Pre-workout -- not Preworkout
Prerequisite -- not Pre-requisite
Multitask -- not Multi-task
Polymath -- not Poly-math
Multi-answer -- not Multianswer
Transboundary -- not Trans-boundary

  • 11
    Why should we believe you? Your opinions may well be correct, but unless you support them by reference to external authority, usage or argument they do not constitute the type of answer required on this site.
    – David
    Dec 4, 2019 at 21:15

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