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Before A (occurs/happens), B
うんどう まえ ストレッチ  しましょう  
Let's stretch before we work out.
36
     もう           いい でしょう  
Wouldn't it be good to discuss it one more time before you decide?
22
            やりなさい  
Feed the cat before you go to school.
31
         ください  
Brush your teeth before you go to sleep!
23
        チケット        なりません  
You need to buy a ticket before you enter the movie theatre.
18
        ストレッチ  して ください  
Please stretch before you begin to work out.
22
                     
Every morning, I take a bath before I eat breakfast.
7
ずっと    ミカン          なった  
A long time ago, I ate too many mandarine oranges and came to hate them.
12
どうして その       くれなかった    
Why didn't you talk to me before then?
10
         どうしても カラオケ       
At any rate, I want to sing karaoke before we eat.
9
     どこか          
It feels like I have met you somewhere before.
6
パーティー             います  
Before the party, there is a friend I want to introduce.
8
ゲーム               
Let's study before we start the game.

Getting the sentences
Construction
(Elements in parentheses are optional.)
AVerb: Dictionary Form
 
ANoun
 
 
BInitial Event
Basic Examples:
ストレッチングする (stretch before running)

宿べる (eat before doing homework)

する (prepare before a meeting)

In other words:
1. Event B occurs first
2. Event A occurs second
The event described by A is always written in the casual present tense, even if B has already happened.
When both events occur in the present/future
In this usage, neither events A nor B have occurred. For example:

       テレビ      (correct)

I (will) watch TV before I read a book.
rewritten like we did above, it would be
1. テレビをみます occurs first
2. をよむ occurs second

Neither event has happened yet, but the order of the events have been noted by まえ に.

Note that you can use a noun with A to describe a time (even though there's no verb)

宿               (correct)

Before I do my homework, I will eat dinner.
rewritten like we did above, it would be
1. ばんごはんをたべます occurs first
2. しゅくだい (をする) occurs second
When both events occur in the past
In this usage, both events A and B have occurred. For example:

        よく        (correct)

I studied a lot before the test yesterday.
1. よくべんきょうしました occurred first
2. しけん (をしました) occurred second

                   (correct)

This morning, I ate breakfast before I went to school.
1. あさごはんをべました occurred first
2. きました occurred second

Wait! Why is 'がっこうにいく' in non-past tense, even though it's already happened? Japanese time statements like まえに are relative: that means they refer to the time of the other event in the sentence, not the present time during which the sentence is being read/said.

In cases like this, the sentence has a time phrase (which describes when), and a main phrase (which describes the key action). The time phrase includes the に, and comes first:
がっこうにいくまえに (time phrase: this describes when the main phrase occurs
あさごはんをたべました (main phrase: this is what the sentence is focused on)
In other words, this sentence's purpose is not to describe a sequence of events. It is to describe when the main action occurs/occurred.

The main phrase's action is the focal point of the sentence. Anything that happens before it should be in non-past, while anything that happens after it (in the case of あとで) is written in past, regardless of whether or not the main action has already occurred.
Related Expressions
Where this grammar is found


User notes
21

another way to think about this is putting the event that occurred second in the gerund form: 'before doing my homework, I will eat dinner.' or 'Before going to school, I ate breakfast.' In English as well we have times when both actions are in the past but one action is not written in past tense ;-)
11 years ago
avatar mysticfive - Level 678

Discussion about this grammar
Level: 1, : 1
My Japan-native Japanese language instructor taught us that mae could be used with the "verb-dictionary form" without the "ni". is this true?
1
12 years ago
avatar
Site admin
Level: 62, : 5,642
Yea, I'm pretty sure you could use it in the topic like this
べるは、しゅくだいをしなさい!
6
12 years ago
avatar
Years Studied: 1
Studying: JLPT 4
Level: 1, : 2
ahh, i'm so confused. why are they using instead of
0
11 years ago
avatar
Site admin
Level: 62, : 5,642
Where is being used?
0
11 years ago
avatar
Years Studied: 1
Studying: JLPT 4
Level: 1, : 2
In the basic usage section, they use さき (sorry, just the hiragana, not the actual kanji as I wrote above) in the example sentences, like this one: 「をよむさきに、テレビをます。」(correct) I (will) read a book before I watch TV. Are they just interchangeable, or am I missing something? Sorry to be a bother ^^
0
11 years ago
avatar
Site admin
Level: 62, : 5,642
Oh hey, I see it now. You're definitely right, and I'll fix it right now. Thanks!
0
11 years ago
avatar
Years Studied: 1
Studying: JLPT 4
Level: 1, : 2
Not at all! Thank you!
0
11 years ago
avatar
Years Studied: 0
Studying: JLPT N3
Level: 1, : 0
「あさごはんをべんきょうしました」near the bottom of the "Basic Usage" section probably should be 「あさごはんをたべました」.
0
11 years ago
avatar
Site admin
Level: 62, : 5,642
*laughs* yea, you're probably right. Thanks for catching that!
0
11 years ago
avatar
Level: 1, : 0
In the above example: 「ほんをよむまえに、テレビをみます。」 the translation says I will read a book before I watch TV. Is that not reversed? Isn't the "まえに" referencing the time before reading the book? In other words, shouldn't the translation be "I will watch TV before I read a book"?
0
11 years ago
avatar
Site admin
Level: 62, : 5,642
You're right - a bit of a typo. Thanks for that - I'll fix it right now!
0
11 years ago



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