How Does "Before" Translate Into Spanish?

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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