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Hi

I would like to discuss the use of "precede"--could you please help me here?
1) The day preceded rain with sunshine. (does it mean that the day started with rain and then the sunshine came?)

2) He preceded good news with bad. (does it mean that he gave good news first and then bad?)

3) She preceded coffee with cake. (does it mean she took coffee first then cake?)

4) The teacher preceded his lesson with punishing two students. (does it mean that the teacher punished two students before he started his lesson?)

Many thanks,

Tom

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Comments  
You've interpreted all of these correctly.

In my opinion, the transitive usage is much less common than the intransitive. Perhaps you're aware of that.
Best wishes, - A.

Edit. Hmm, I may not be making exactly the point I wish to here. I'll get back. (Or somebody will clobber me on this! Emotion: surprise)

The passive is very common, which of course must be transitive. "Cake was preceded by coffee."

When we place A before B, I don't think we say that we precede B with A. "B" is actually the subject of the clause, acting transitively on the object, "A." That is, B is doing something to A. A is the direct object of the verb, to precede.
Mr. Tom1) The day preceded rain with sunshine. (does it mean that the day started with rain and then the sunshine came?)

2) He preceded good news with bad. (does it mean that he gave good news first and then bad?)

3) She preceded coffee with cake. (does it mean she took coffee first then cake?)

4) The teacher preceded his lesson with punishing two students. (does it mean that the teacher punished two students before he started his lesson?) Wow, I can't believe I did this! Emotion: embarrassed

Sunshine preceded rain. (active voice) or Rain was preceded by sunshine. (passive voice)

Bad news preceded good news. or Good news was preceded with / by bad.

Coffee preceded cake. or Cake was preceded by coffee.

Punishing two students preceded his lesson. or His lesson was preceded by (his) punishing two students.

I'm a little bit stuck here (too tired) I'm looking for a word, but all I can think if is "preface."

She prefaced coffee with cake. (I know that sounds dumb!)

When all else fails, consult the dictionary! Emotion: nodding

Edit. The aggravating thing is that the dictionary gives "preface" as an alternate meaning for "precede."

I'm comfortable with saying "She prefaced cake with coffee."
I'm less comfortable with saying "Coffee prefaced cake."
I'm comfortable saying "Coffee preceded cake."
I'm less comfortable saying "She preceded cake with coffee."

Let's face it! I need help here!Emotion: rolleyes

My position is that with the transitive verb "to precede,"
when A precedes B, A does it to B. That is, A is the actor, B is the direct object.

When J places A in front of B, we're talking about a different verb. "Preface" works for me.
"J prefaces B with A." "J" is the actor.

Sorry, Tom, I thought your four examples were a bit unusual in some way, but it seemed like they had to be right. I'm still not prepared to say they're wrong, but I'm working on it. Emotion: smile
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Many thanks, Avengi, for the detailed answer.

Just to make sure that I understood you correctly:
1) She preceded crying with laughing aloud. (she cried first and then laughed aloud. The sentence is grammatically correct but sounds a bit unnatural-- a bit, right?
and:
1) She prefaced crying with laughing aloud. (she cried first and then laughed aloud--the sentence has the same meaning as above--but unnatural, right?
then passive--now we will have to change the position of actions, I suppose!?
1) Her laughing was preceded by her crying aloud. ( I intend to keep the same meaning as above.) both correct and natural, right?
and what about:
1) Her laughing was prefaced by her crying aloud. ( I intend to keep the same meaning as above.) correct and natural or not?
Thanks for your time and effort,

Tom
Mr. Tom 1) She preceded crying with laughing aloud. (she cried first and then laughed aloud. The sentence is grammatically correct but sounds a bit unnatural-- a bit, right?

2) She prefaced crying with laughing aloud. (she cried first and then laughed aloud--the sentence has the same meaning as above--but unnatural, right?

3) Her laughing was preceded by her crying aloud. ( I intend to keep the same meaning as above.) both correct and natural, right?

4) Her laughing was prefaced by her crying aloud. ( I intend to keep the same meaning as above.) correct and natural or not? Hi, Tom, I was hoping an old master would jump in here. This has caught me completely off guard.

I haven't been able to find what you might call satisfying confirmation on the fundamental difference between the two verbs, "to precede" and "to preface." I personally have never used "precede" the way you used it in your four original examples.

Your use would be defined as "to place one thing in front of another." My American Heritage is just to darned ambiguous about that point. It's a little more clear about the verb "to preface," and I believe it fits the definition I've just given.

The way I define "to precede" is to be in front of something. We're only talking about two things. A concert preceded the speeches. Coffee preceded the cake. A preceded B.
"A" is the actor - the doer of the action.

In your original examples we're talking about three things. We've added a person as the actor. She preceded cake with coffee. I'm still looking for confirmation that this usage is grammatical. It may turn out that it's not.
I'm quite confident that "to preface" may be used in this way, but that's not the word you want to use.

So #1 bothers me a little, but it may bother others a lot.

#2 is correct, and had the meaning you intend, but I just don't care for the sound of the word in that usage.

#3 is perfect, in my opinion.

#4 is also correct and natural in my opinion.

Hi guys,

You have discussed a lot of examples, and I can't look at them all, but here are a few general comments.



My dictionary offers this.

precede

1a come or go before in time, order, importance, etc. (the preceding paragraph)

1b walk etc. in front of (preceded by our guide)

2 (followed by by) cause to be preceded (must precede this measure by milder ones)

Now let's look briefly at your original examples.


1) The day preceded rain with sunshine. (does it mean that the day started with rain and then the sunshine came?) OK figuratively, but literally the day did not cause that. A religious person might say 'God preceded rain with sunshine'. A non-religious person might sat 'Rain preceded sunshine, that day.

2) He preceded good news with bad. (does it mean that he gave good news first and then bad?) Yes.

3) She preceded coffee with cake. (does it mean she took coffee first then cake?)” Yes. 'Took' or 'served'

4) The teacher preceded his lesson with by punishing two students. (does it mean that the teacher punished two students before he started his lesson?)

It's very important to realize that 'precede' is a rather formal word that is not commonly used in conversation.

The word 'preface' is equally formal and uncommon. It is often used in connection with books and speeches. Where you use it more generally in terms of sequencing, it often suggests that one event introduced or led up to another.

eg The pain in his arm prefaced his heart attack.

Use of the passive obviously makes all this a little more challenging.

Best wishes, Clive
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Okay, we're making progress. Thanks, Clive.

Clive does not object to the idea of a person as the subject of the verb "to precede." That is, "She preceded A with B. So you're clear on your original examples, aside from giving up your poetic "The day preceded etc."

I think the passive sentences are most natural, but of course that's up to you.

It's interesting that while #3 & #4 use the same words, their structures are theoretically different, assuming a person as actor in #4, and an event as actor in #3.Emotion: smile
Hi Tom

I know you've already had a lot of input, but here is my two cents anyway.
(Warning: this particular two cents may well only confuse matters further.)

Mr. Tom1) The day preceded rain with sunshine. (does it mean that the day started with rain and then the sunshine came?)
Quite honestly, I don't think I would ever use "preceded" this way myself, and if I heard someone use that sentence, I would probably understand it to mean that the sunshine came first.

If I wanted to say that the day started with rain, then I would say it one of the following two ways:

Rain preceded the sunshine (that day).

The sunshine (that day) was preceded by rain.

Mr. Tom2) He preceded good news with bad. (does it mean that he gave good news first and then bad?)
Like your first sentence, I would understand this differently -- i.e. I would understand that the bad news came first. I know that both Clive and Avangi have agreed with your interpretation, but my brain simply refuses to accept it.

However, I would like to back up my feeble understanding with an example taken from the Cambridge Dictionary:
It would be helpful if you were to precede the report with an introduction.

As I see it, despite the fact that the sentence above uses "were to precede" rather than "preceded", it is nevertheless the same sort of usage. The sentence above could be reworded this way:
"It would be helpful if you preceded the report with an introduction." Doesn't it seem obvious that the sentence means that an introduction should come before the report?

Mr. Tom3) She preceded coffee with cake. (does it mean she took coffee first then cake?)
Again, my brain is insisting that the cake was first. (First Emotion: cake, then Emotion: coffee.)

Mr. Tom4) The teacher preceded his lesson with punishing two students. (does it mean that the teacher punished two students before he started his lesson?)
Yes!!!! That's the way I would understand it![<:o)] Emotion: phew Emotion: big smile

What made you reverse your interpretation for this particular sentence, Tom? You interpreted the order of things differently in sentence 4 than you did in the first three.
Okay, we're making progress. Thanks, Clive.

Clive does not object to the idea of a person as the subject of the verb "to precede." That is, "She preceded A with B. So you're clear on your original examples, aside from giving up your poetic "The day preceded etc."

I think the passive sentences are most natural, but of course that's up to you.

It's interesting that while #3 & #4 use the same words, their structures are theoretically different, assuming a person as actor in #4, and an event as actor in #3.Emotion: smile

Okay, guys, much ado about nothing.
I just renewed my MW Unabridged so I could settle this, and found the answer was under my nose.
It lists #5, to cause to be preceded.
So I went back to my Am Htg and discovered that the definition 4 "preface" (which I had originally suggested as the right word) is intended as a definition, with the meaning it normally has.

I don't know why I was so bothered by that structure. But as I said, I have never used it, and didn't think it was legal. Sorry.

Amy, I don't know what happened. I must have been half asleep. On top of all my other crimes, I never noticed that the first three examples were reversed. Thank God you spotted it. I guess it's time to retire. I was super careful to keep my A's & B's straight through all that unnecessary rigamorole, and I never checked the originals .

So Tom, when you precede A with B, B comes first.

When A precedes B, A comes first.

When A is preceded by B, B comes first.

(You knew that!) Emotion: embarrassed I'm running out of apologies. I've used them all.

Well, at least I had them the right way in my second post, when I threw out the agent.
Does that make me feel better? Naw.
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