This combinator implements choice. The parser p <|> q first applies p. If it succeeds, the value of p is returned. If p fails without consuming any input, parser q is tried. This combinator is defined equal to the mplus member of the MonadPlus class and the (<|>) member of Alternative.
The parser is called predictive since q is only tried when parser p didn't consume any input (i.e.. the look ahead is 1). This non-backtracking behaviour allows for both an efficient implementation of the parser combinators and the generation of good error messages.