Last time, we talked about how we can use IN to talk about FUTURE events. 

If you want to review the article, please click here.


Today, we are going to practice talking about PAST events. 

A common mistake is using “BEFORE” to describe one event in the past. 

Here are some examples:


I went to Canada two weeks before.

I arrived at the station 20 minutes before.  


With these phrases, the listener will be confused.  The listener thinks you are talking about the time between two events.  They will be waiting for you to explain the second event. 

So, In these phrases, we should use “AGO” instead of “BEFORE”. 

For example:


I went to Canada two weeks AGO. 

I arrived at the station 20 minutes AGO. 


The easiest way to talk about when an event happened in the past is to use “AGO”.

Here are some more examples:


The store closed 10 minutes ago.

I started learning English 5 years ago.

The rain stopped an hour ago.


So, how can we use “BEFORE”?

Just like using “AFTER”, we can use “BEFORE” when talking about two events.

Here are some examples:


I made dinner 20 minutes BEFORE you came home.

BEFORE going to Canada, I studied English conversation.

Let’s grab a coffee BEFORE watching the movie.

The store closed 10 minutes BEFORE I arrived.


So the structure can be:

(Event # 1)  BEFORE  (Event # 2).


For example:

Event # 1 –> Buy a ticket

Event # 2 –> get on the train

Buy a ticket BEFORE getting on the train. 


We can add time with this structure:

(Event # 1)  (time) BEFORE  (Event # 2).


For Example:

Event # 1 –> Arrived at the restaurant

Time –> 10 minutes

Event # 2 –> Last call.

I arrived at the restaurant 10 minutes BEFORE last call. 



So, when was your last day off?

When did you arrive at work?

When did you eat dinner?

Try answering this questions about PAST EVENTS using “AGO” or “BEFORE”.


Natural English in this article:

Grab a coffee = Buy / get a cup of coffee.  From a cafe, vending machine, etc. Can be used with other drinks and food too.

Last call  = Similar to “last order”.   Your last chance to order food / drinks because the bar / restaurant will close soon. 



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