Expressing "before" in general with "yiqian"
To talk about things that previously occurred, you can use the word 以前 (yǐqián). You can use this structure to talk about actions that happened at some unspecified time in the past.
One way to use 以前 (yǐqián) is to start the sentence with it. This is like starting off a sentence in English with "before..." or "in the past..."
以前 + Subj. + Verb + Obj.
You can also move 以前 (yǐqián) to right after the subject, and it's also correct.
Subj. + 以前 + Verb + Obj.
- 以前 我 不 会 说 中文 。 Before, I could not speak Chinese.
- 你 以前 住 在 哪儿？ Before, where did you live?
- 以前 我 不 认识 他。 Before, I didn't know him.
- 以前 他 是 我们 的 客户 吗？ Was he our client before?
- 以前 他 是 一 个 服务员，现在 是 老板。Before, he was a waiter. Now, he is a boss.
- 我 父母 以前 都 是 老师。Before, both of my parents were teachers.
- 爸爸 以前 很 喜欢 抽烟。Before, dad really liked smoking.
- 姐姐 以前 有 一 个 很有钱 的 男朋友。My older sister had a very rich boyfriend before.
- 他们 以前 没有 钱，可是 很 快乐。They didn't have much money before, but they were happy.
- 我男朋友 以前 在 美国 工作，现在 在 中国 工作。Before, my boyfriend worked in the USA. Now, he works in China.
- In the future in general
- Before a specific time
- At the time when
- Before and after with "zhiqian" and "zhihou"