Spanish expressions: “Antes de…”

spanish expressions antes de

“Antes” is a common way in Spanish of saying before. But, it is often necessary to use it with prepositions like “de” and “que”. Therefore, phrases such as “antes de” and “antes de que” are now part of daily conversations between Spanish speakers.

In this article, we will let you know the differences between “antes de”, “antes de que”, and “antes”. Everything will depend on which part of the sentence it connects with. If it affects the whole meaning of the sentence or a verb, then it works as an adverb.

However, we are going to explain how we use “antes de”, when we use it, and its structure. If you want to learn a little about these wonderful Spanish tools, stay tuned.

How to use “antes de”

“Antes de” works like a two-word preposition and connects with the noun that follows or an infinitive working as a noun. Don’t forget that just like in English, we can use some verb forms as nouns to talk about a general way of the action. “Antes de” is also followed by a verb or a verb where the noun is implied.

Often, we use “antes de” as a warning. When we want to warn the other person of the consequences of the action, we also use it.

Here are some examples below,

Los niveles de deuda de la compañía aumentaron antes de la nueva emisión de acciones.

The company’s debt levels increased before the new share issuance.

Antes de enterarme por otros, prefiero que seas tú el que me lo diga.

Before finding out from others, I prefer that you be the one to tell me.

Antes de hablar, piensa bien lo que vas a decir.

Before you speak, think carefully about what you are going to say.

As you can see, you can use “antes de” as a connector between two words, as a warning, or when giving advice. We also use it to introduce facts or circumstances.

We take these as a reference point to say that something precedes another in time. Either immediately or at a time not too far away. On the other hand, it also introduces the place we take as a reference point. This happens by indicating that something is closer in space than something else.

For example:

Antes de decírselo, piénsatelo bien.

Before you tell him, think about it well.

Él bebía un vaso de agua antes de cada comida.

He drank a glass of water before every meal.

Antes del callejón hay una puerta muy bonita.

Before the alley there is a very nice door.

How to use the structure ‘antes de + noun/infinitive’

The phrase “antes de” functions as a two-word preposition and three-word conjunction, respectively. The structure for this formula is very simple. Let’s see it below.

Antes de + noun/infinitive/perfect infinitive

Now, let’s see other examples with “antes de”:

Antes de ser absorbidos por el trabajo, ¡Salgamos a tomar algo!

Before we get sucked into work, let’s go out for a drink!

Le pidió a Sofía que le avisara antes de venir.

He asked Sofia to let him know before coming.

Antes de los diez años, Mozart ya había compuesto al menos tres sinfonías.

Before the age of ten, Mozart had already composed at least three symphonies.

As you may realize, we have the preposition and then we have the noun or the infinitive. It is not a struggle to use these structures.

On the flip side, we also have antes de + the compound infinitive (“haber”).

If we use haber + the compound infinitive, we emphasize the completion of the action of the main verb in the past. For example, “antes de desayunar” does not emphasize the completion of the action of having breakfast. But, if we say “antes de haber desayunado“, there is an emphasis on the action of completing breakfast.

Here are some other examples for better understanding.

Hizo su examen antes de haber repasado.

He did his exam before having recapped.

Compré el primer vestido que había visto, después de haber mirado en varias tiendas.

I bought the first dress I had seen, after having looked in different shops.

“Antes de” vs “antes de que”

One way to notice the differences between them is to look at the three variations we use in sentences that begin the same.

Here is an example of a sentence in all three forms.

Lo sabía todo antes.

I knew it all before.

“Antes” affects the meaning of the entire sentence and works as an adverb. This is the only example of these three where “beforehand” or “earlier” would work as a translation.

Lo sabía todo antes de hoy.

I knew it all before today.

“Antes de” works as a preposition with “hoy“, a noun, as its object.

Lo sabía todo antes de que comenzara el trabajo.

I knew it all before the job began.

Debo terminar esta redacción antes de que sean las diez.

I must finish this essay before it is ten.

“Antes de que” indicates the time connection between what could otherwise be two sentences. “Antes de” is always followed by the subjunctive.

“Antes de que” arose from the intersection between “antes de” and “antes que”. Therefore, both “antes de” and “antes que” with time value are correct constructions.

‘Antes de terminar…’

Given these points, we can say that “antes de” is a two-word preposition to which we can give different uses and forms. Everything will depend on the sentence and the noun or the infinitive that comes after the structure. Remember that when we want to use “antes de”, “antes de que”, and “antes”, we must pay attention to the meaning of what we are going to say.

We have to keep in mind that the words in Spanish may sound similar. But, with just an article or with the noun that follows it, we can change the meaning of the sentence. However, with a bit of practice, you can get the hang of it and make your Spanish way better than before.


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