Traditionally, human–machine interaction to reach an improved machine translation (MT) output takes place ex-post and consists of correcting this output. In this work, we investigate other modes of intervention in the MT process. We propose a Pre-Edition protocol that involves: (a) the detection of MT translation difficulties; (b) the resolution of those difficulties by a human translator, who provides their translations (pre-translation); and (c) the integration of the obtained information prior to the automatic translation. This approach can meet individual interaction preferences of certain translators and can be particularly useful for production environments, where more control over output quality is needed. Early resolution of translation difficulties can prevent downstream errors, thus improving the final translation quality “for free”. We show that translation difficulty can be reliably predicted for English for various source units. We demonstrate that the pre-translation information can be successfully exploited by an MT system and that the indirect effects are genuine, accounting for around 16% of the total improvement. We also provide a study of the human effort involved in the resolution process.