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From collins dictionary:

You use followed by to say what comes after something else in a list or ordered set of things.

In the following sentence, the potatoes is in the 1st place of popularity?

"Potatoes are still the most popular food, followed by white bread".

If they are, then I understand that the idiom 'followed by' basically means 'before'. Right?

For example:

The stage of learning followed by (=before) knowledge.

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  • As for my logic, the second person. Because he follows me (so he's in my back = I'm first). But, if followed by = after, then "Potatoes are still the most popular food, followed by white bread" means that potatoes are most popular after the white bread... Isn't it? Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 21:13
  • Potatoes first, white bread second. If someone follows you, they are behind you. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 21:24
  • The reason it's confusing is because of the passive form. If for example we'd used the active form: follow, maybe it was less confusing. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 21:32
  • 2
    Yes. In the alphabet, A comes before B, A is followed by B, B follows A. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 22:08
  • Now I understand. Maybe you'll write it as answer? Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 3:08

2 Answers 2

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The answer to your question about potatoes is yes. The answer to your question about the idiom is yes : 'Followed by' basically means 'before'.

However, 'followed by' is so litteral in indicating that the second element mentionned comes after the first one, that it can hardly be called an idiom. Consider the following sentences :

  • The horse was walking backwards, which is why I saw its tail first, followed by the rest of the horse, of course.
  • I went inside the house immediately, followed by my brother.

More importantly, your example 'The stage of learning followed by (=before) knowledge.' is wrong because you cannot use 'followed by' and 'before' interchangeably in a sentence.

To make a grammatical sentence, you need to add a verb at the right place:

The stage of learning is followed by knowledge.

Or if you want to use it as a standalone title, you need a comma, but it's a wonky sentence:

The stage of learning, followed by knowledge

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its more of how a list works.

1st: potatoes 2nd: bread

while yes, bread did come in before potatoes in popularity, bread comes after in the list. think of it like a race. the 1st place is followed by 2nd place.

does that clear things up?

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  • can you elaborate? i edited it a bit. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 22:26
  • hey @MichaelHarvey can you elaborate please? i edited it a bit. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 3:32

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