(In addition to the uses shown below, before is used in the phrasal verbs `go before' and `lay before'.)
1) PREP If something happens before a particular date, time, or event, it happens earlier than that date, time, or event.

Annie was born a few weeks before Christmas...

Before World War II, women were not recruited as intelligence officers...

My husband rarely comes to bed before 2 or 3am.

Before is also a conjunction.

Stock prices have climbed close to the peak they'd registered before the stock market crashed in 1987.

2) PREP: PREP -ing If you do something before doing something else, you do it earlier than the other thing.

He spent his early life in Sri Lanka before moving to England...

Before leaving, he went into his office to fill in the daily time sheet.

Before is also a conjunction.

He took a cold shower and then towelled off before he put on fresh clothes.

3) ADV: n ADV You use before when you are talking about time. For example, if something happened the day before a particular date or event, it happened during the previous day.

The war had ended only a month or so before.

Before is also a preposition.

It's interesting that he sent me the book twenty days before the deadline for my book.

Before is also a conjunction.

Kelman had a book published in the US more than a decade before a British publisher would touch him.

4) CONJ-SUBORD If you do something before someone else can do something, you do it when they have not yet done it.

Before Gallacher could catch up with the ball, Nadlovu had beaten him to it.

5) ADV: ADV after v If someone has done something before, they have done it on a previous occasion. If someone has not done something before, they have never done it.

I've been here before...

I had met Professor Lown before...

She had never been to Italy before.

6) CONJ-SUBORD If there is a period of time or if several things are done before something happens, it takes that amount of time or effort for this thing to happen.

It was some time before the door opened in response to his ring.

7) CONJ-SUBORD If a particular situation has to happen before something else happens, this situation must happen or exist in order for the other thing to happen.

There was additional work to be done before all the troops would be ready.

8) PREP If someone is before something, they are in front of it. [FORMAL]

They drove through a tall iron gate and stopped before a large white villa.

in front of
9) PREP If you tell someone that one place is a certain distance before another, you mean that they will come to the first place first.

The turn is about two kilometres before the roundabout.

10) PREP If you appear or come before an official person or group, you go there and answer questions.

The Governor will appear before the committee next Tuesday.

in front of
11) PREP If something happens before a particular person or group, it is seen by or happens while this person or this group is present.

The game followed a colourful opening ceremony before a crowd of seventy-four thousand.

in front of
12) PREP: PREP pron If you have something such as a journey, a task, or a stage of your life before you, you must do it or live through it in the future.

Everyone in the room knew it was the single hardest task before them...

I saw before me an idyllic life.

ahead of
13) PREP: v PREP n When you want to say that one person or thing is more important than another, you can say that they come before the other person or thing.

Her husband, her children, and the Church came before her needs.

14) before longsee long

English dictionary. 2008.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Before — Be*fore , prep. [OE. beforen, biforen, before, AS. beforan; pref. be + foran, fore, before. See {Be }, and {Fore}.] 1. In front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house. [1913 Webster] His angel, who shall… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Before — «Before» Сингл Pet Shop Boys из альбома Bilingual Выпущен 22 апреля, 1996 года Формат CD Записан 1995 Жанр Электро …   Википедия

  • before — [bē fôr′, bifôr′] adv. [ME biforen < OE beforan < be , BY + foran,FORE] 1. in advance; in front; ahead 2. in the past; previously [I ve heard that song before] 3. at an earlier time; sooner [come at ten, not before] prep …   English World dictionary

  • before — before, ahead, forward are comparable when they mean in advance, especially in place or in time. Before is more commonly used in reference to time than to place. Its most frequent implication is previousness or priority {I have heard that before} …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Before — Be*fore , adv. 1. On the fore part; in front, or in the direction of the front; opposed to {in the rear}. [1913 Webster] The battle was before and behind. 2 Chron. xiii. 14. [1913 Webster] 2. In advance. I come before to tell you. Shak. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • before — be·fore prep 1: in the presence of then personally appeared before me 2: to be judged or acted on by a case before the court a bill coming up before Congress Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 19 …   Law dictionary

  • Before Me — Studioalbum von Gladys Knight Veröffentlichung 2006 Label Verve …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • before — O.E. beforan before, in front of, in the presence of, in former times, from P.Gmc. *bi by + *forana from the front, adverbial derivative of *fora (see FOR (Cf. for)). Cf. O.Fris. bifara, O.S. biforan, O.H.G. bifora, Ger. bevor. Contrasting …   Etymology dictionary

  • before — [adv] earlier afore, aforetime, ahead, ante, antecedently, anteriorly, back, before present, ere, fore, former, formerly, forward, gone, gone by, heretofore, in advance, in days of yore, in front, in old days, in the past, past, precendently,… …   New thesaurus

  • before — ► PREPOSITION , CONJUNCTION , & ADVERB 1) during the period of time preceding. 2) in front of. 3) in preference to; rather than. ORIGIN Old English, from BY(Cf. ↑by) + FORE(Cf. ↑fore) …   English terms dictionary

  • before — be|fore1 W1S1 [bıˈfo: US ˈfo:r] conj 1.) earlier than a particular event or action ≠ ↑after ▪ Say goodbye before you go. ▪ I saw her a few days before she died. see usage note ↑ago 2.) so that something does not or cannot happen ▪ Put that money… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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