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necessary condition

Definition of Necessary Condition

(noun) Something that must happen for an effect to occur.

Examples of Necessary Condition

  • Having ice cream is necessary to eat a bowl of ice cream.
  • Oxygen is necessary for human life.

Necessary Condition Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: nec·es·sar·y con·di·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /nEs-uh-sair-ee kuhn-dIsh-uhn/
  • British English – /nE-si-suh-ree kuhn-dIsh-uhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈnɛsəˌsɛri kənˈdɪʃən/
  • British English – /ˈnɛsɪsəri kənˈdɪʃən/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: necessary conditions
  • Necessary condition is related to sufficient condition, which is a condition that, if present, guarantees an effect will occur.
  • Necessary conditions are not always “sufficient“. For example, an individual with ice cream can eat a bowl of ice cream if they have a bowl, but you can still eat ice cream without a bowl. Additionally, to eat a bowl of soup, it is not necessary or sufficient to have ice cream. Finally, it is both necessary and sufficient to have both a bowl and ice cream to eat a bowl of ice cream.
  • Also called necessary cause.

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Necessary Condition

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “necessary condition.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2020 (http://sociologydictionary.org/necessary-condition/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

necessary condition. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/necessary-condition/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “necessary condition.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2020. http://sociologydictionary.org/necessary-condition/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“necessary condition.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 5 Jun. 2020. <http://sociologydictionary.org/necessary-condition/>.