From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishbeforebe‧fore1 /bɪˈfɔː $ -ˈfɔːr/ ●●●S1W1 conjunction1BEFOREearlier than a particular event or action opp afterSay goodbye before you go.I saw her a few days before she died.2PREVENTso that something does not or cannot happenPut that money somewhere safe before it gets stolen.That dog ought to be destroyed before it attacks any more children.Before I could say anything more, Holmes had rushed off towards the station.3used to say that something happens after a period of timeIt was several minutes before we realised what was happening.It will be a while before we know the results.4used to say that something must happen in order for something else to be possibleYou have to pass a test before you can get a licence.5THREATEN spoken used to warn someone that something bad will happen to them if they do not do somethingGet out before I call the police!6BEFOREused to emphasize that someone does not want to do somethingShe would die before she would admit she was wrong.GRAMMAR: Choosing the right tenseYou use the present simple with before to talk about a future event. Don’t use ‘will’. You say: I want to get home before it rains.✗Don’t say: before it will rain
Examples from the Corpus
before• We don't know how long it'll be before I get the cast off my arm.• Take that dogindoorsbefore it bites somebody.• Lock up your bikebefore it gets stolen.• There's a lot to do before we can submit the proposal.• It will be a few days before we know the fullresults.• Before you get angry, try and remember what it was like to be fifteen.• Anthony wants to see you before you go.beforebefore2 ●●●S1W1 preposition1BEFOREearlier than something or someone opp afterThe new road should be completed before the end of the year.Let’s meet at our house before the show.Larry arrived home before me.five minutes/two hours etc before somethingHugh arrived just five minutes before the ceremony.before doing somethingI usually take a shower before having my breakfast.We only got back from Scotland the day before yesterday (=two days ago).Other students joined in the protest, and before long (=soon) there was a crowd of 200 or so.2BEFOREahead of someone or something else in a list or order opp afterYou were before me in the queue.The files are in alphabetical order, so B1 comes before C1.3FRONTused to say that something happens where it can be watched by people syn in front ofItaly will face Brazil this afternoon before a crowd of 100,000 spectators.an actor who had performed before the Queen4SHOW/LET somebody SEE somethingused to say that someone or something comes to be judged or considered by a person or group of peopleThe proposal was put before the planning committee.5IMPORTANTused to say that one thing or person is considered more important than anotherI put my wife and kids before anyone else.In the air transport business, safety must always come before profit.
6formalFRONT in front of something or someoneThe priest stood before the altar.The sea stretched out before them.7FRONTif one place is before another place on a road or journey, the first place is nearer to you than the second, so you will reach it first opp afterThe pub is 100 metres before the church on the right.the last station before the Simplon Tunnel8formalDO if there is a job or situation before you, you will have to do the job or face the situation syn ahead ofThe task of emptying the house lay before us.9formalBEFORE if a period of time is before you, it is about to start and you can do what you want during it syn in front ofWe had a glorious summer afternoon before us to do as we pleased.You have your whole life before you.THESAURUSbefore earlier than something or someoneShe could read before she started school.Do you want to have a shower before me?prior to formal before something happensPlease arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure.by no later than a particular time or dateThe children are usually in bed by 9 o'clock.We have to be out of our hotel room by 10 o'clock.earlier before now, or before the time you are talking aboutI saw her earlier.I had sent the letter earlier in the week.previously before now, or before a time in the pastHe previously worked as an electrician.The show starred a previously unknown actress called Jennifer Aniston.in advance before something happens – used especially when talking about the arrangements for somethingLet me know in advance if you are going to be late.The landlord wants three months’ rent in advance.beforehand (also ahead of time) before something happens, especially so that you are readyI wish we had known about all this beforehand.It’s always best to decide beforehand how much you want to pay.
Examples from the Corpus
before• Call me back before 5.30.• My son is most important - he comes before anyone.• I visited them just before Christmas.• Our daughter was born just before Christmas.• No cookiesbeforedinner, Andy.• Islington station is one stopbefore Finsbury Park on the Victoria Line.• You should go, beforeJohn gets back.• I think you were before me in line, weren't you?• Denise got there before me.• Quality should come beforequantity.• The priestkneltbefore the altar.• She gave a presentationbefore the board of directors.• The proposal came before the citycouncil a year ago.• She trembledbefore the prospect of meeting him again.• Turn left just before the traffic lights.• The highwaystretched out before them.• We had the wholesummerbefore us.• This lady was before you, sir.before doing something• We lived in Ogden before moving to SaltLake City.beforebefore3 ●●●S1W1 adverb1BEFOREat an earlier timeHaven’t I met you before somewhere?Never before had he seen so many people starving.She looked just the same as before.2 →the day/week/month etc before3FRONT old use ahead of someone or something elseThe king’s herald walked before.
Examples from the Corpus
before• I've never been to this restaurantbefore.• I had never seen such an uglybabybefore.• I know I've seen him somewhere before.• Sheila and I became friends in 1995, although we had actually met several years before.• The king's guardswalkedbefore.• Wendell had never been on a planebefore.• But Garvey and Lucie had to clown more than before.• This was a different Fernando from the one she had loved so passionately before.