The key to thriving in English-speaking countries, especially in popular television shows, Internet entertainment, music, and even politics, is to have a firm grip of terminology and syntax. ‘Ago’ and ‘before’ are frequently used interchangeably.
Though they appear to be synonymous, their definitions and applications differ.
Before vs Ago
The difference between ‘before’ and ‘ago’ is that before means ‘earlier than a specific event’ and ago means ‘in the past.’ The word before, which is a preposition, is usually used with past perfect tense and the word ago, which is an adverb, is usually used with simple present tense only.
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The definition of the word before is ‘earlier than somebody or something. The word before is often used with the past perfect tense and it is both a preposition and a conjunction.
The word before does not always require an expression of time in the sentence. The word before is used to refer to a specific event in relation to another event in the past.
The definition of the word ago is ‘in the past’. The word ago is often used with the simple present tense. The word ago is an adverb. Unlike the word before, the word ago always requires an expression of time.
The word ago is used to refer to something in the past in relation to the present.
|Parameters of Comparison||Before||Ago|
|Definition||Earlier than somebody or something||In the past|
|Usage in Tense||Usually used with the past perfect tense||Usually used with simple past tense|
|Word Form||Preposition/ Conjunction||Adverb|
|Expression of Time||When using ‘before’, expression of time is not always required||Expression of time is always required|
|Form of Usage||Used to refer to a specific event in relation to another event in the past||Used to refer to something in the past in relation to the present|
What is Before?
Before can be used as a preposition, conjunction, or adverb in three separate contexts. It is advised that you study and practice carefully in order to properly grasp and transmit the word with dedication and success.
It can be used after a time expression that counts back from a previous instant. Such statements are usually written in the past perfect tense. When I contacted her last month, she told me that they had migrated to California eight months before.
Before can also be used without a time statement to signify any period before now. A precise time is not specified here. In the statement “I have seen her before,” for example.
Before refers to an unknown time period and does not specify when it occurred. Likewise, I have never been there before. Additionally to this time-related meaning, before can also signify ‘in front of’- she stood in front of the mirror admiring her attire.
The word before originated around the year 1200. It was derived from various different words.
These include the word ‘beforan’ which was used in Old English, ‘bifara’ which was used in Old Frisian, ‘Bevor’ which is used in German and ‘bifora’ which was used in Old High German.
What is Ago?
The term ago is not the same as the word before. There is a minor risk of misunderstanding between the descriptions. The meaning of before is “before the present.”
The word ago is an adverb with one major definition. It is advised that this term be thoroughly researched as well. Ago is an adverb that means “before the present” or “earlier.” Ago is always used in conjunction with a certain historical period.
The statements that contain the word ago are usually written in the simple past tense— “I traveled to Paris 6 years ago.”, “He called you three minutes ago.”
This word came into use by the English language a long time back, before the year 1000. The word ago is a shortened version of the word ‘agon’, which means passed away or departed. Agon is the past particle of the verb ‘ago’ which is now obsolete.
It originated from the word ‘agan’ which was used in Old English.
Some more examples with the usage of ‘Ago’ can be “How long ago did this happen?”, “Long ago, he used to reside here.”, “They lived more than a thousand years ago”. Etc.
Main Differences Between Before and Ago
- The definition of the word before is ‘earlier than somebody or something’ and the definition of the word ago is ‘in the past’.
- The word before is often used with the past perfect tense and the word ago is often used with simple present tense.
- The word before is both a preposition and conjunction but the word ago is an adverb.
- The word before does not always require an expression of time in the sentence, but the word ago always requires an expression of time.
- The word before is used to refer to a specific event in relation to another event in the past and the word ago is used to refer to something in the past in relation to the present.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.