How to use ‘Before’

Before Preposition

We use before most commonly with noun phrases to refer to timed events:

  • I like to go for a run before breakfast.
  • You can check-in online but you have to do it at least four hours before your flight.

We use before to refer to the place, especially when it is seen as part of a journey or as part of a sequence of events in time:

  • Get off the bus just before Euston Station.
  • Just before the end of the poem, there is a line where the poet expresses his deepest fears.

before (preposition) and In front of


  • I must move my car before nine o’clock.
  • It’s parked in front of the post office. (NOT … before the post t7ffice.)

Before is normally used to refer to time. However, it can refer to place:

to talk about order in queues, lists, documents, etc. We use ‘a’ before a consonant and ‘the’ before a vowel.  

  • Do you mind? I was before / in front of you!
  • Her name comes before mine in the alphabet.

To mean ‘in the presence of (somebody important)’

  • I came up before the magistrates for dangerous driving last week.

In the expressions right before one’s eyes, before one’s very eyes.

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