'Pre' vs 'Post': What Do They Mean?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 8, 2022

You might have seen the prefixes' pre' and 'post' but needed clarification on their meaning. This article will explain what they mean, where they come from, and how to use them.

In short, 'pre' means before and 'post' means after.

What's the Difference Between 'Pre' and 'Post'?

These two prefixes are found at the beginning of a word. They show that something has occurred before or after it.

The word 'pre' comes from the Latin prae, which means 'before in time or place.'

The word 'post comes from the Latin word post meaning 'behind,' or 'after.'

Peri- is another prefix meaning during. It isn't used very often, probably because when something is currently going on, you usually just refer to it using the word itself, with no need for a prefix.

What's a prefix?

'Pre' and 'post' are prefixes. That means they are placed at the beginning of a word to adjust its meaning.

Notice how the word 'prefix' itself has 'pre' at the beginning. It tells us that it should go at the beginning of a word.

Here are some examples of words with prefixes. Some have hyphens, and others don't:

  • Submarine
  • Unapologetic
  • Self-love
  • Disengaged
  • Ex-husband

Example Sentences Using "Pre"

Let's look at real-life examples of the prefix 'pre' in sentences. You'll notice that in some cases, it is followed by a hyphen, and in others, it is embedded into the word.

We're having a pre-used clothes sale.

I don't know how people managed pre-buses.

Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?

Did you hear they found prehistoric hippos?

Adjectives usually precede nouns.

We're taking precautionary measures.

My kid just started pre-school.

Things were simpler pre-divorce.

In all the above sentences, 'pre' means the same thing as 'before'.

Example Sentences Using "Post"

Now that we've seen some examples of one prefix let's look at some examples with the other.

The world looks very different post-Covid.

I think he has post-traumatic stress disorder.

Has a post-mortem been conducted?

I'm tired. Let's have a post-gym nap!

I've enrolled in a postgraduate course.

His art has a very postmodernist feel.

It was mostly popoluarized post-19th century.

I've definitely suffering from post-Summer blues!

In all the above sentences, you could replace 'post' with 'after.'


So there you have it. 'Pre' means before, and 'post' means after. This can be either in time or position. Both prefixes can be used with or without a hyphen. It all depends on the context and the word you use them with.

Let's finish with a joke.

"Pre- means before. Post- means after. To use both prefixes together would be preposterous."

Get it? Pre/Posterous.

Check out our other confusing words articles here.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.