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. To make 以前 (yǐqián) easier to understand, it can be used similarly to the English word, "before."


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 。 Yǐqián wǒ bù huì shuō Zhōngwén. Before, I could not speak Chinese.
  • 以前 我 住 在 上海 。 Yǐqián wǒ zhù zài Shànghǎi. Before, I lived in Shanghai.
  • 以前 我 是 一 个 老师 。 Yǐqián wǒ shì yī gè lǎoshī. Before, I was a teacher.
  • 以前 我 不 喜欢 他 。 Yǐqián wǒ bù xǐhuan tā. Before, I didn't like him.
  • 以前 我 不 喜欢 电影 。 Yǐqián wǒ bù xǐhuan diànyǐng. Before, I didn't like movies.
  • 以前 没有 钱 。 yǐqián méiyǒu qián. Before, I didn't have any money.
  • 以前 很 快乐 。 yǐqián hěn kuàilè. Before, I was very happy.
  • 我们 以前 经常 聊天 。 Wǒmen yǐqián jīngcháng liáotiān. Before, we often talked together.
  • 以前 很 喜欢 笑 。 yǐqián hěn xǐhuan xiào. Before, she really liked laughing.
  • 以前 很 爱 学习 。 yǐqián hěn ài xuéxí. Before, I really loved studying.

See also

Sources and further reading