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In expressions of time
As an adverb
When before is used as an adverb in expressions of time, the usual translation is antes:
two days before = dos días antes
▪ When it has the sense of already, it is usually translated by ya:
have you been there before? = ¿ya has estado allí?
▪ In negative sentences, before is often used in English simply to reinforce the verb. In such cases it is often not translated:
this has never happened before = esto no ha sucedido nunca (antes)
I’d never done it before = no lo había hecho nunca (antes)
As a preposition
When before is used as a preposition in expressions of time, the usual translation is antes de:
before the meeting = antes de la reunión
As a conjunction
▪ When before is used as a conjunction in expressions of time, it is translated by antes de + infinitive, where the two verbs have the same subject:
before going to work or before he went to work he took the children to school = antes de ir a trabajar llevó a los niños al colegio
I’m going to watch television before going to bed or before I go to bed = voy a ver televisión antes de acostarme
▪ Where the two verbs have different subjects, the translation is antes de que + subjunctive verb:
let’s go and see her before she leaves = vayamos a verla antes de que se vaya
I wanted to let you know before you made any plans = quería informarte antes de que hicieras planes
▪ For simplicity, Spanish sometimes uses the preposition antes de + noun to translate before + verb:
before she got married her mother gave her a present = antes de su boda su madre le dio un regalo
For more examples and particular usages, see the entries for before
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