Avant de VS Devant de in French

avant devant french (1)

Many French words have similar meanings; are used similarly; and are confused frequently.  Prepositions avant and devant are one of them.

Stay tuned to avoid common French mistakes.

Avant vs Devant

First, let’s get this out of the way. Let’s see the obvious difference between avant and devant.

The prepositions avant and devant have somewhat similar meanings, which is the main reason many French students get them confused.

Avant → “before” in terms of time or a sequence of events. It’s mostly used with expressions of time, nouns, or stressed pronouns.

avant 15h – before 15 o’clock

avant jeudi – before Thursday

avant moi – before me

Devant → “in front of”, “ahead”

Embarrasse-moi devant mes amis et collègues.

Kiss me in front of my friends and collegues.

Click here to learn more Common French Mistakes : Après, Avant, Derrière, Devant

 Avant de in French

After we have cleared the things from our way, we can focus on some expressions with the preposition avant.

The expression avant de is always followed by infinitive, and means before doing something, or  prior to (doing something). Infinitive is the part of the sentence that conveys the basic meaning of that verb.

If you are wondering what is the infinitive form in French, then move to the next paragraph.

What is the infinitive form in French?

The infinitive form is the basic form of verbs, and in French, it ends with [-ER], [-IR], or [-RE].

Each of these infinitive endings is the equivalent of  “to …”  (to speak, to read, to take, etc.) in English.

To convey that one action precedes another in English, we often use the construction conjugated verb + ‘before’ + verb + [-ing]. 


L’enfant se brosse les dents avant de se coucher.

The child brushes his teeth before going to bed.

Il fait une liste avant de faire les courses.

I make a list before going grocery shopping.

Ferme la porte à clé avant de partir !

Lock the door before leaving!

En avant de

Gardez les mains plié en avant de la tête.

Keep the hands folded in front of the head.

Ainsi il a donné sa permission en avant de temps.

So he gave his permission ahead of time.

Oui Décrivez : Ils étaient en avant de la lumière.

Yes They were in front of the light.

Devant de

We won’t explain too much here, because it’s basically the same principle used as in avant de.

Je vais m’installer devant de la fenêtre pour admirer la vue.

I’m going to sit in front of the window to admire the view.

Nous allons arriver devant de la bibliothèque.

We will arrive in front of the library.

devant avant french (1)

Similarity often Confuses

We can’t repeat this often enough. Many French words, like prepositions avant and devant are too similar for newly French speakers. Students are often confused, and who can blame them.

The only trick we recommend here is repetition and conscious learning. Try associating the words with something you’ll find memorable and voilà.

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