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If I want to have supscript on the left, I usually do {}^xa. How can I do this when I have a matrix. So what I want is

{}^x\begin{pmatrix} a & b \\ c & d\end{pmatrix}

However, this doesn't raise the x high enough.

I just need this for one application.

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1  
If you are not using it that often you can match the size of the delimiter height and kern it slightly via {\vphantom{\bigg(}}^x\!\!\begin{pmatrix} a & b \\ c & d\end{pmatrix} – percusse Jun 17 '14 at 5:09
    
@percusse: Great. Thanks. I just need to do this one time, so this works well. If you write it as an answer, I will upvote and accept. – Thomas Jun 17 '14 at 5:12
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Package mathtools (an extension package to amsmath) provides \prescript:

\prescript{<left superscript>}{<left subscript>}{<arg>}

Full example:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{mathtools}
\begin{document}
\[
  \prescript{x}{}{\begin{pmatrix} a & b \\ c & d\end{pmatrix}}
\]
\end{document}

Result

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In case you need it more frequently, the tensor package should solve the problem of height.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{amsmath}
\usepackage{tensor}

\begin{document}


\[
\tensor*[^x]{\begin{pmatrix} a & b \\ c & d\end{pmatrix}}{}
\]

\end{document}

enter image description here

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Here's an option using stacks. Because it is a lap, one may (or not) wish to add horizontal space prior to the \tllap.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{stackengine,mathtools}
\stackMath
\begin{document}
\[
  \tllap{\scriptstyle x}
  {\begin{pmatrix} a & b \\ c & d\end{pmatrix}}
\]
\end{document}

enter image description here

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