before · preposition /bɪˈfɔːr/Full view
before (EARLIER)
A1 earlier than something or someone
Dictionary examples:

two days before the summer holidays

She arrived before me.

You should always wash your hands before meals.

Think hard before accepting the offer.

Learner example:

We will come before 7 o'clock and help you with dinner. (Skills for Life (Entry 1); A1; Polish)

before (PLACE)
A2 at a place that you arrive at first when travelling towards another place
Dictionary example:

The hospital is just before the bridge.

Learner example:

Drivers've got often a problem with finding some space and there is another problem - the car park is open just until 8 pm, so the better thin[g] to do is leave a car in car park before the city centre. (First Certificate in English; B2; Czech)

before (IN FRONT OF)
B1 in a position in front of someone or something
Dictionary example:

I've never performed this before an audience.

before (IN ORDER)
B1 in front of someone or something in an order or a list
Dictionary example:

The letter K comes before L in the English alphabet.

before (IMPORTANCE)
C2 treated as more important than someone or something
Dictionary example:

They always put the children's needs before their own.

Learner example:

She puts people with their needs before her own comfort, that is why she is successful. (Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; French)

before · conjunction /bɪˈfɔːr/
before (EARLIER)
A2 earlier than the time when something happens
Dictionary examples:

He was a teacher before he became famous.

Before he could reach the door, she quickly closed it.

Before we make a decision, does anyone want to say anything else?

Learner example:

I think the notebook is in your bedroom. I was studying there before I left your home. (Key English Test; A2; Portuguese)

before (TO AVOID SOMETHING)
B1 in order to avoid something bad happening
Dictionary example:

Put that stick down before you hurt someone!

before (UNTIL)
B1 until (the event mentioned)
Dictionary example:

It took a few moments before I realized that he was joking.

before you know it
C1 very soon
Dictionary example:

We'll be there before you know it.

Learner example:

It is a bit dark inside and especially in winter, it is dark before you know it. (Certificate in Advanced English; C1; Dutch)

before · adverb /bɪˈfɔːr/
before
A2 at an earlier time, or on a previous occasion
Dictionary examples:

He said he had never seen her before.

I feel as though I've been here before.

Learner example:

My father never b[ought me] any birthday presents before. (Key English Test; A2; Chinese)

long before
C2 a long period of time before something
Dictionary example:

I was a vegetarian long before I met Sally.

Learner example:

The cups belonged to my family long before I was born and the fact they are [a] part of my family tradition makes them valuable in my eyes. (Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; Polish)

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