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English definition of “before”

before

preposition     /bɪˈfɔːr/ US  /-ˈfɔːr/
B1 in front of: The letter K comes before L in the English alphabet. Many mothers put their children's needs before their own. We have the whole weekend before us - what do you want to do? He stood up before a whole roomful of people, and asked her to marry him.Ahead, in front and beyond A2 If a place is before another place, you will arrive at it first when you are travelling towards the second place: The bus stop is just before the school.Ahead, in front and beyond To be before someone or a group of people, is to be formally considered or examined by that person or group: The proposal before the committee is that we try and reduce our spending by ten percent. The men appeared before the judge yesterday.Analysing and evaluatingAssessing and estimating valueLaw courts Grammar:BeforeBefore is a preposition, an adverb and a conjunction. Before means earlier than the time or event mentioned:See moreGrammar:Before as a prepositionWe use before most commonly with noun phrases to refer to timed events:See moreGrammar:Before, by, till, untilIf you have to do something before a certain point in time, then when that point arrives, the action must already be completed:See moreGrammar:Before as an adverbBefore often comes after nouns such as day, morning, night, week, month, year to refer to the previous day, morning, etc.:See moreGrammar:Before as an adjunctWe use before to connect earlier events to the moment of speaking or to a point of time in the past:See moreGrammar:Before as a conjunctionWe use before as a subordinating conjunction. We commonly use before with the past simple tense. It suggests that the second event happened soon after the first one. The before clause, which indicates the second action, can be at the end or at the beginning of the sentence:See moreGrammar:Before with -ingA non-finite clause with before + ing-form is more formal:See moreGrammar:Just before, immediately beforeWe can use adverbs such as just, immediately, shortly and long, and expressions involving words such as days, weeks, months, years in front of before:See moreGrammar:BeforehandWe can use beforehand as an alternative to before as an adverb, especially when the reference to time is less specific.See moreGrammar:Other uses of beforeSee moreGrammar:Before: typical errorsSee more
(Definition of before preposition from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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