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Before a specific time with "yiqian"

As well as talking about the past in general, you can use 以前 (yǐqián) to talk about things that happened before a specific time.

Structure

Time / Verb + 以前 ,⋯⋯

The time can be a specific time, or an action (technically, "when the action was done").

Examples

  • 吃饭 以前 ,你 洗 手 了 吗?Chīfàn yǐqián, nǐ xǐ shǒu le ma?Did you wash your hands before eating?
  • 睡觉 以前 ,不要 吃 东西。Shuìjiào yǐqián, bùyào chī dōngxi.Don't eat anything before you go to sleep.
  • 两 年 以前 , 你 认识 他 吗? Liǎng nián yǐqián, nǐ rènshi tā ma? Did you know him two years ago?
  • 星期五 以前 ,你 要 做 完 这些 工作。Xīngqīwǔ yǐqián, nǐ yào zuò wán zhèxiē gōngzuò.You need to finish this work before Friday.
  • 上 大学 以前,你 来 过 上海 吗?Shàng dàxué yǐqián, nǐ lái guo shànghǎi ma? Before you went to college, did you ever come to Shanghai?
  • 结婚 以前 ,你 应该 先 买 房子。Jiéhūn yǐqián, nǐ yīnggāi xiān mǎi fángzi.Before getting married, you should first buy a house.
  • 二十 年 以前,这里 是 一 个 公园。Èrshí nián yǐqián, zhèlǐ shì yī gè gōngyuán.Twenty years ago, this was a park.
  • 几 个 月 以前 ,他们 分手 了。Jǐ gè yuè yǐqián, tāmen fēnshǒu le.They broke up a few months ago.
  • 毕业 以前,我 要 找到 工作。Bìyè yǐqián, wǒ yào zhǎodào gōngzuò.I need to find a job before graduation.
  • 当 总统 以前,Obama 没有 白 头发。Dāng zǒngtǒng yǐqián, Obama méiyǒu bái tóufa.Before he became the president, Obama didn't have white hair.

Note that this use of 以前 (yǐqián) can also be shortened to 前 (qián).

See also

Sources and further reading