Common mistake precedent / precedence

One of the most common mistakes in English grammar is mixing up the words "precedent" and "precedence". While they may sound similar, they have completely different meanings and usage.


Precedent, with the stress on the second syllable, is a noun that refers to a previous occurrence or decision that serves as an example or guide for future actions or decisions. It often comes up in legal contexts, where decisions made in similar cases in the past can establish a precedent for how future cases should be handled.

For example:

  • The judge considered the precedent set by previous similar cases.
  • This ruling could set a dangerous precedent for future cases.


Precedence, with the stress on the first syllable, is a noun that refers to the condition of being considered more important or having priority over something else. It is often used to describe the order or priority in which things should be done.

For example:

  • Emergency situations take precedence over all other matters.
  • In a diplomatic event, protocol dictates the order of precedence for dignitaries.

It's important to remember that "precedent" and "precedence" cannot be used interchangeably. "Precedent" refers to an established example or decision, while "precedence" refers to the condition of being more important or having priority.

For anyone who wants to avoid these common mistakes in grammar, a useful tool is the Linguix grammar checker. It helps to identify and correct grammar errors, including the incorrect use of words like "precedent" and "precedence", making your writing more clear and accurate.

precedent / precedence mistake examples

  • Incorrect:
    Allow us to set a precedence.

    Allow us to set a precedent.

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