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What is the difference between Antes, Antes de, and Antes


de que in Spanish?

Carlon Baird, Foreign Language Enthusiast


Answered 19h ago

The difference between them is primarily how they are used. In other words, there are subtle
differences in their usage.

Antes

1. Antes can mean “before”, “would rather”, “previous” or “first”

Context Sentence

in English Sentence

in Spanish

before The president came

the day before.  Vino el presidente

el día antes. 

would rather I would rather die


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than lose my dignity. Antes muerto que

vender mi dignidad.

previous The chancellor resigned

the previous day. El canciller dimitió

el día antes.

first We are going to have

lunch, but first, let's pray.  Vamos a almorzar,

pero antes, recemos

2. Antes sometimes changes its meaning when used in several idiomatic expressions:

Expression in Spanish Expression in English

cuanto antes as soon as possible

justo antes de just ahead of/ just before

más que antes more than before

si antes lo digo, antes sucede no sooner said than done

antes que nada first and foremost

lo de antes the one from before


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Antes de

You use the expression antes de when you want to express the idea:

1. Before doing something (antes de hacer algo) when the subject of the verb in the main
clause is the same as the subject of the verb in the subordinate clause. In this scenario, the
expression antes de acts as a preposition.

To elucidate, let us consider the following sentences:

Antes de cenar, le rezo a Dios

Before I have dinner, I pray to God.

Antes de comenzar, María les dio gracias a todos los amigos.

Before Mary started, she thanked all her friends.

Antes de acostarse, Miguel se cepilla los dientes.

Before Miguel goes to bed, he brushes his teeth.

Yo he de visitar a Colombia antes de morirme.

I have to visit Colombia before I die.

The table below summarises the expressions.

Expression in Spanish Expression in English

antes de cenar before having dinner 

antes de comenzar before starting

antes de acostarse before going to bed

antes de morirme before I die

2. Before a time period (antes de una época).

Expression in Spanish Expression in English

antes de mañana before tomorrow 

antes de la caída de noche before nightfall

antes de la fecha de vencimiento before the due date

antes de fin de mes before the end of the month 

antes de ayer day before yesterday

antes de nada before anything else/ first of all

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3.Before + noun/event Open in app 


Sentence

in Spanish Sentence

in English

Jorge vine

antes del accidente. Jorge came

before the accident. 

Yo tenía miedo

antes del examen. I was afraid

before the exam.

Antes de que

Now, the expression “antes de que” triggers the subjunctive mood. It is used to introduce an
adverbial clause. Since the action of the subordinate clause has not been accomplished at the
time indicated in the main verb, the subjunctive is used. Antes de que can be used either when
the subject of the verb in the main clause is not the same as the subject of verb in the
subordinate clause or when the subject of the verb in the main clause is the same as the
subject of verb in the subordinate clause. Moreover, in this case antes de when coupled with
que becomes a subordinating conjunction. A subordinating conjunction introduces an adverbial
clause.

Case 1: When the subject of the verb in the main clause is not the same as the subject of verb
in the subordinate clause

In the main clause, an activity that someone did before you is expressed in the indicative while
the activity you hope to do before that person/thing is expressed in the subjunctive mood.

Sentence

in Spanish Sentence

in English

Jorge vino

antes de que lo llamáramos. Jorge came

before we called him. 

Si lo quieres llámalo

antes de que sea demasiado tarde If you love him,

call him before it's too late.

Antes de que se me olvide,

¿cuál es su nombre otra vez?  Before I forget

what is your name again?

Los niños crecen

antes de que te des cuenta. Children grow up

before you know it.

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For instance, in the sentence “Jorge vino antes de que lo llamáramos”, the subject of the main
clause is “Jorge” and the subject of the subordinate clause is “nosotros”. Therefore, this
occurrence warrants the subjunctive.

Here is the sentence structure:

subordinating conjuction


Jorge vino  antes de que  lo llamáramos


 
main clause adverbial clause

Here is a simple analogy (please, click on the picture for better viewing):

Case 2: The subject of the verb in the main clause is the same as the subject of verb in the
subordinate clause

When this occurs you have two options:

Use antes de + infinitive

Use antes de que + subjunctive.

For example, you can either say,

Yo visité a mis parientes en Trinidad y Tobago antes de irme.

I visited my relatives in Trinidad and Tobago before I left.

Or

Yo visité a mis parientes en Trinidad y Tobago antes de que me fuera.

I visited my relatives in Trinidad and Tobago


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Note: when you use antes de que it must always take the subjunctive.

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Carlon Baird

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BSc. Computer Science, University of the West Indies Graduated 2016

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