Definition of BEFORE

BEFORE Preposition, Conjunction and Adverb

Before is a word that can function as a preposition, conjunction, and adverb. It indicates a point in time prior to another event or action.

BEFORE as a preposition

As a preposition, before is used to show that one event or action precedes another in time. For example, “She always stretches before a run,” indicates that stretching occurs prior to running.

Indicating Time: When used as a preposition, before helps to establish a chronological order. For example, “Finish your homework before dinner,” specifies that the homework should be completed prior to dinner time.

BEFORE as a conjunction

As a conjunction, before introduces a subordinate clause, indicating that the action in the main clause occurs earlier than the action in the subordinate clause. For instance, “Check your answers before you submit the test,” means that the checking of answers should happen prior to the test submission.

Forming Complex Sentences: Using before as a conjunction helps form complex sentences that clearly outline the sequence of events. For example, “I had to leave before the meeting started,” makes it clear that the leaving occurred prior to the start of the meeting.

BEFORE as an adverb

As an adverb, before can stand alone to refer to an earlier time without specifying an exact point. For example, “We had met once before,” means that the meeting occurred at some unspecified earlier time.

Temporal Relationships: Before is essential for expressing temporal relationships in both simple and complex sentences, helping to clarify the order of events. For example, “He arrived at the station before noon,” specifies that the arrival occurred earlier than noon.

Everyday Usage: In everyday language, before is commonly used to sequence daily activities and events. For example, “Brush your teeth before going to bed,” instructs that the teeth brushing should happen prior to bedtime.

Planning and Instructions: Before is often used in instructions and planning to ensure tasks are completed in the correct order. For instance, “Read the instructions before assembling the furniture,” emphasizes the importance of reading instructions prior to starting the assembly process.

In conclusion, before is a versatile word that functions as a preposition, conjunction, and adverb to indicate that one event or action precedes another in time. It is crucial for establishing chronological order and clarifying the sequence of events in both written and spoken communication.

Examples of BEFORE in a sentence

BEFORE as a preposition in a sentence

  • We met before the meeting started.
  • She always stretches before exercising.
  • They arrived before sunrise.
  • He had coffee before breakfast.
  • Before leaving, make sure to lock the door.
  • She finished her homework before dinner.
  • We need to finish this before the deadline.
  • He called me before his flight.

BEFORE as a conjunction in a sentence

  • She left the house before it started raining.
  • He finished his work before the boss arrived.
  • Before you go to bed, brush your teeth.
  • They had to clean up before they could leave.
  • Before we start the meeting, let’s review the agenda.
  • Before I forget, here is your book.
  • Before you make a decision, think it over carefully.
  • He always reads a book before he goes to sleep.

BEFORE as an adverb in a sentence

  • He had seen her once before.
  • I’ve heard this song before.
  • She mentioned it to me before.
  • He had never traveled before.
  • We have met before, haven’t we?
  • She had visited the museum before.
  • He warned me before.
  • They had tried that solution before.

Origin of BEFORE

The term before has its etymological origins rooted in Old English and reflects temporal and positional concepts associated with events, actions, or states occurring prior to others.

  • Old English Roots: “Before” traces back to Old English as “beforan,” which conveyed the idea of preceding in time or place. In Old English, “before” could indicate both temporal precedence and a spatial position in front of something else.
  • Temporal Connotations: Over time, the term “before” became primarily associated with temporal relationships, denoting events, actions, or states that occur earlier than others. It is commonly used to indicate sequence or precedence in time, such as “beforehand” or “before long.”
  • Positional Usage: While the temporal usage of “before” became dominant, the term retained its positional connotations in certain contexts. It can still denote a physical position in front of or ahead of something else, as in “beforetime” or “beforehand.”
  • Contemporary Usage: In modern English, “before” is a versatile word used in various contexts, including time, sequence, consequence, and spatial relationships. It serves as an essential element in expressing the notion of preceding events or actions.

From its origins in Old English to its contemporary usage, the term before embodies the enduring concepts of temporal and positional relationships, reflecting humanity’s understanding of time, sequence, and precedence.


  • Prior
  • Earlier
  • Preceding
  • Prior to
  • In advance of
  • Antecedent
  • Formerly
  • Pre-


  • After
  • Later
  • Subsequent
  • Following
  • Subsequently
  • Afterwards
  • Post-
  • Next


  • Prior to
  • Previous
  • Anterior
  • Preliminary
  • Preparatory
  • Preceding
  • Preexisting
  • Foregoing

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