As I understand it, "a posteriori" means "from the latter," and "a priori" means "from the former."

Suppose there was something predating the former in the context above. How would that be expressed in correct Latin? "Ante a priori?" "A antepriori?" "A ante priori?"

  • Can you add some information about the kind of context that you have in mind? In the phrase "a priori", the word "prior" usually has a philosophical meaning: logically prior, as a cause is "prior" to the observed effects from which we infer the cause. But the word "prior" certainly isn't limited to that. Its broad meaning, of "more first", gets narrowed very differently in different contexts, of course.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 5, 2019 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


Ante a priori is gibberish. Go with ante priorem instead.

"The former" in Latin is prior. This word can be inflected to a number of different forms depending on the situation. The relevant forms or cases here are the accusative priorem and ablative priori (also priore). The opposite word posterior has the same endings for the same forms. The preposition a (also ab or abs) requires ablative, ante requires accusative.

A priori means "from the former". Ante priorem means "before the former", and this is what you need. You cannot combine prepositions like that; a priori is not a noun or an adjective in Latin, although it can function that way in English.


Joonas's answer is entirely correct, but to add one note:

Sometimes it is possible to, apparently, combine prepositions in Latin. For example, a punishment ex post factō comes from (ex) a law created (factō) after (post) the action itself happened, with two prepositions (ex and post) in a row.

However, when this happens, it's usually (always?) because one of the prepositions is being treated as a prefix instead. In this example, the law is postfactum ("created-after"), a single word, and so the punishment is coming ex postfactō, "from a created-after". This is why we see factō (ablative from ex) instead of factum (accusative from post).

In this case, the simplest solution is ante priorem, "before the former". But if you want to derive something from what happens before the former, you could potentially turn that into a single word, anteprior ("pre-former"), and derive something ab antepriori "from the pre-former".

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